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The Minister of Culture officially opened the Institute for Human Rights: “A milestone for Sweden” – Institutet för mänskliga rättigheter
The Swedish minister of Culture Jeanette Gustafsdotter talked about how Sweden is often seen as a role model for other countries when it comes to respect for human rights. Photo: Charlotte Carlberg Bärg

Finally,”. “Long awaited”. These were some of the most repeated comments during the official opening of the Institute for Human Rights in Sweden.

Several of the speakers and of the 150 invited guests described the new authority as a milestone in Swedish history.

– It is easy to think that human rights are mainly about international law and about resounding words like freedom, justice, and equality. But it is in everyday life that they really come to acquire their full significance. The work for human rights must take place everywhere in society, said Anders Kompass, acting director of the institute.

The establishment of the Institute means that Sweden will for the first time have an independent institution dealing with all issues related to ​human rights.

The new authority was established on 1 January this year, on the basis of preparatory work conducted by the board before then. During the spring, the institute conducted dialogues with civil society organisations, responded to referrals from the Government and began drafting a report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

As she was cutting the ribbon at the beginning of yesterday’s opening, Minister of Culture Jeanette Gustafsdotter talked about how Sweden is often seen as a role model for other countries when it comes to respect for human rights. Nevertheless, reviews at both national and international level have pointed out a number of issues that can be changed and improved.

– We’re not done. We cannot sit back. Work on human rights must continue and be strengthened. It must be conducted with a long-term vision, a structured approach, and as a systematic effort. The institute will play a central role in this work, Jeanette Gustafsdotter said in her speech.

– The institute is also unique in its high degree of independence, and it will examine the work of the Government with a critical, independent view. Today represents a milestone for human rights work in Sweden.

The chairperson of the Board Dr. Elisabeth Rynning promised in her speech that the institute, will apply a holistic perspective to contribute to build an overall picture of the situation of human rights in Sweden. Mia Ahlgren, from the Swedish Disability Rights Federation, reminded the important work that has been done and that is being done by civil society organizations to ensure human rights for all people. Philip Sandberg, Mayor of the city of Lund, welcomed the institute to the first “human rights city” in Sweden.

Together with the author and journalist Göran Rosenberg, Anders Kompass talked about human rights in the context of the current situation, with the war in Ukraine and a more fragile security policy situation in Sweden and in Europe. Human rights are basically a peace project. An independent and functioning judiciary, free exchange of ideas, religious freedom and the right to peaceful assembly constitute together a bulwark of resistance to war.

The Sami artist Katarina Barruk and the spoken word artist Sara Nazari impressed the guests with their voices, their talent and their own example as human rights activists.

Katarina Barruk sings in Ume Sami, which also thanks to her own efforts is today recognized is the fourth Sami language in Sweden, with its own dictionary.

Sara Nazari ended the day with her strong and deeply touching poem “If They Ask”.

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