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The Ethos of the Swedish Feminist Foreign Policy
Leila Brännström (Lund)

  • Room 920, Melbourne Law School 185 Pelham Street Carlton, VIC, 3053 Australia (map)
 Swedish Foreign Ministry.

Swedish Foreign Ministry.

Three years ago, the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström declared that Swedish foreign policy would henceforth be a feminist one. The ambitions of the social democratic-dominated government to promote feminism beyond borders is seen by many commentators as a new expression of the old social democratic commitment to international solidarity, and a continuation of the ‘morally’ driven activist foreign policy of the social democratic Swedish governments of the 1960s and 1970s, who sided with national liberation movements around the world, protested new forms of imperial interventions and emphasised the principle of self-determination in international law.

The current Swedish feminist foreign policy is the centerpiece for an early stage research project that Leila Brännström is conducting together with her colleague Markus Gunneflo. The project aims to highlight not only the lines of continuity with the Swedish activist foreign policies of yesteryears but also the discontinuities: what is, for example, distinctive about the current feminist foreign policy compared to previous Swedish efforts to enhance the situation of women around the world? What vision of change fuelled the ‘old’ activist foreign policy and which vision is driving the present one? Compliance with international law has been vital to both the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ activist foreign policy, but how is the international law that conditions today’s feminist foreign policy different from the international law that structured the Swedish foreign policy activism of earlier periods? Sweden is the point of departure in this project but the Swedish case will be put in a global context in the study. In this seminar, Leila Brännström  presented and discussed some of their preliminary ideas.

Register for this seminar here.


Leila Brännström is a lecturer and researcher in Jurisprudence in the Department of Law at Lund University, Sweden. Her research and teaching interests are focused on political and legal theory and human rights law. In her previous work, she has examined the legislative and juridical responses to ethnoracial inequality in Sweden and across (Continental) Europe, studied the ways in which transnational legal discourses, in particular EU law and international human rights law, have reshaped Swedish juridical thinking, and investigated Carl Schmitt’s and Giorgio Agamben’s ideas on law and sovereignty.