One of the things that has fascinated mankind since the beginning of time is communication. It is one of the things that seperates us from other spiecies, the ability to use advanced communication.
There are basically two important things for in relation to communication, the language and how we use it. Today there are so many platforms and arenas for communication that it has become more important how you say things than waht you say. To make your messagevheard in the great global information ocean. It id not simple and it is not easy. However, one thing is still crucial, you need a language to communicate. We need a common language to understand each other.
How to use it? It is an art of its own and I will expand on that another day. Today in this posting I will focus on the importance of langauge.
I am happy to come from a small country, a trading nation that always has treasured the use of different languages.
We have to learn other langauges early since there are only 12-13 million people in the world that speak Swedish.
Almost all Swedish people speaks at least one more language – normally English, and most people speaks two additional languages. In addition there are many people that speak three, four or even more languages.
If you travel Sweden you will have no problem finding somebody that speaks your language. Children with parents having more than one native langauge (maybe a mother from Chile and a father from Croatia) has a legal right to be offered to study also the additional langauges in ordinary public schools. This is in addition to Swedish and the generally offered langauges, today normally English, German, French, Spanish, Portugues, Russian and Mandarin.
In public school today in Sweden our children starts reading a second language at the age of six, a third language at nine and then they can add on more languages during the obligatory twelve years of school studies. We also watch all TV and movies in original language, which is something many European countries don’t.
Having said that, language is getting more and more important in Europe in general.
The EU statistical bureau Eurostat has studied the use of languages in the European Union Memberstates. There is a report about this on the EU Commission website, very interesting reading.
The latest study shows that two-thirds of the population of European Union knows a second language other than the natove one. That is a really good number.
It is an amazing power for a person and for a country of people to be multilingual.
When we work with capacity building the ability to support in the language of the reciever is a key success criteria. I will give you an example.
There was a major change of the World Customs Organization that maybe hasn’t been so much talked about afterwards as it should, but that I personally think is one of the most successful things that we have verbdone – and that was the thenimplementation of the WCO Language Fund.
When I started my work as Director of Capacity Building inbthe WCO in 2006, I found out that there were several geographical areas where the organization was not present and/or active. An analysis showed that it had to do with the language challenge. WCO has two official langauges, English and French. But you can’t deliver capacity building in Latin America, CPLP, Central Asia or MENA in English or French. In fact my discussions with colleagues from these countries showed thst many of the Members didn’t even know about the capacity building services we offered in the WCO, due to the fact that they did not send any participants to our meetings because of the language barrier. So we had to change this and we did.
When I initiated the WCO Langaue Fund it became directly a success. I was also lucky that my home country, the Government of Sweden, agreed with our analysis of the importance of langauge when doing capacity building and Sweden was the first donor to the fund with a contribution of 1 million Euro. So the fund was implemented.
We could then, offer interpretation and translation in a number of new languages (Arabic, Portugese, Russian and Spanish) at WCO meetings. We also initiated specific accreditation workshops for capacity building experts for these lanaguage groups, making it possible to deliver missions and workshops on all necessary langauges. We started to offer a number of our key capacity buidling and development programmes in other languages, like eg. the Leadership Development programme, the Fellowship programme and the e-learning programme.
This initiativ has fundamantally changed the WCO. Member countries send their best experts to meetings, instead of somebody that speaks English. Capacity Building missions are delivered on the recievers own langauge. Not always, but more than before. People in the entire Membership know about the WCO services.
Today we see so much more interest and participation from these regions in the SCO daily activities and thus has WCO Members as well as the international supply chain and global trade, been improved due to the language reform of the WCO. This is something I am very proud of. However, it is not enough. We need more.
The next following decade the need for cooperation, global partnerships, more harmonization and standardization will increase tremendously and grow exponentially. We need to re-vitalize and further develop our work on communication and languages.
Communication is the key and without langauges, no communication.
The power of our langauge.
Sweden played Ireland in the first game of the UEFA EuroCup 2016 playoff groupstage. The game ended 1-1.
Ireland scored 1-0 in the beginning of second half. Sweden then had a recovery and scored 1-1. It was our captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic that did a great move, after a backhrel pass from John Guidetti, and hit the ball hard towards the goal which pressured an Irish defender to score an own goal.
To be fair. This was a poor performance, a bad football game. To be honest, Ireland was the better team. Our first half was the worst I have ever seen the Swedish national team play. I feel sorry for Ireland being ‘robbed’ of 2 points, but I am happy that it was Sweden that was getting the draw.
At least the Swedish and Irish fans were acknowledged as being the best so dar, singing and creating an atmosphere of joy and friendliness. We need more of that these days.
Yesterday we played Italy. An Italian team that easily beat the group favourites Belgium 2-0 in their first game. Sweden did a much better game than against Ireland. We were dominating the ball possesion (60-40), but didn’t manage to create the real open chances to score.
Italy had 2-3 players on Ibrahimovic all through the game, which our other players should have taken advanatge of. Italy is a strong tram and in 89th minute they scored on a counter attack. On extra time we were denied a oenalty that clearly should have been given. It was simply not our day and we had no luck with the referee.
So only one point in two games for my beloved national team so far. Is it over? No, it is never over ‘until the fat lady sings’ as they say.
On Wednesday we play favourites Belgium in Nice. This game will be decisive. The team that wins is though to the knock-out rounds. A difficult game for us. Another loss for Sweden? Maybe, maybe not Football is an amazing sport – nothing is impossible. So I think Sweden will win.
Legendary soccer coach Carlo Ancelotti, now taking over in Bayern Munich, hails the mindset and charachter of Swedish International striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a article in The Telegraph and Goal.Com.
The former Milan player and legend Ancelotti coached Ibrahimovic in Paris Saint-Germain. He has also coached Real Madrid, Chelsea, Milan and Juventus.
To read the entire article, click here: Ibra is not an ordinary 34 year old player
This week I am in Brasilia working on AEO Brazil Phase III.
Today we had an amazing workshop between Customs, Tax, Agriculture & Tax to start the development of one of the first fully integrated ‘Single Government AEO Status’ models in the world, connecting the AEO programme & the Single Window.This means that AEO status given by Receita Federal (the Brazilian Revenue Authority) will also be acknowledged and given benefits by the other agencies. Amazing progress on te meeting today.
I love working in Brazil & with Brazilian agencies, colelagues. They show such dedication, passion, professionalism, love for their country – despite tough times in many ways.
Our man at the very top, Swedish top diplomat and super negotiator Jan Eliasson is Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations.
Swedish largest daily newspaper DN has done a long article about the work and world of Mr. Eliasson. The article is written by acknowledged journalist and writer Björn af Kleen and was published this weekend.
Let me start by saying that Jan Eliasson is a unique international leader and very few people in the world (ever) has had his CV and merits from the diplomatic world – and nobody has been negotiator in more international conflicts than Mr. Eliasson.
I have met Jan several times and we have many common friends. I can confirm that the intelligent, charming, efficient and very friendly diplomat that people meet on the world scene is the real Jan Eliasson. A remarkable person in so many different perspectives.
Björn af Kleen got the chance to follow the Deputy Secretary General for a full working week in New York. The result? A previously not told story and an unique insight in the world of diplomacy of the Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson – A warrior for peace.
Mr. Eliassons is a firm believer in governance, passion and transparance – in combination with his Scandinavian open mangenent style, it made this amazing article possible. I will quote some of it in this posting.
Since July 2012, Jan Eliasson is the Deputy Secretary General of UN.
“I’m the one who makes all policy decisions’ in the Secretary-Generals Ban-ki Moons absence, Jan Eliasson says. He is traveling all the time and he does not have time to read all the details. I sign in his place, which means that all major policy decisions’ passes through me”.
“I am responsible for the entire political sector, including peacekeeping, human rights, humanitarian issues, but overpriced the development area of Climate. But I’m not operational. There are operational departments under me. It is a privilege given to me by the Sectretary General. When he travels I hold the fort”.
As to be expected Jan Eliasson has a fantastic national and international career before joining his present post. His career includes having served as Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Swedish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He has been Sweden’s Ambassador to Washington, D.C., United States and on 13 June 2005 he was unanimously elected President of the United Nations General Assembly, for its sixtieth session. He served as President from 13 September 2005 to 11 September 2006. He was former Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palmes advisor on Foreign Policy and has since the 70s been a top negotiator in countless international crises and conflicts.
Eliasson has authored and co-authored numerous books and articles and is a frequent lecturer on foreign policy and diplomacy. Since 1988 he has been a visiting lecturer on mediation, conflict resolution and UN reform at Uppsala University.
Sweden is a candidate for a seat on the United Nations Security Council for the period 2017–2018.
Sweden has been a member of the UN Security Council on three different occasions before, namely; 1957-58, 1975-76 och 1997-98.
The last time, 97-98, Mr. Eliasson was Head of the Swedish Campaign.
“It was great”, says Jan Eliasson. “We received 153 votes (out of 181 countries), the highest number Sweden ever had. We got almost all African states, I think. I had interceded with the Palme since the early 1980s. I had a pretty good phone list”.
Eliassons four-year posting as Deputy Secretary General is the culmination of a class journey. He was born in one of the working-class district Kålltorp in Gothenburg. His dad worked at the industry SKF and at a gas station.
“Let me get personal”, says Jan Eliasson to the students in Nairobi during a lecture. “I am from Sweden. You may not believe me, but Sweden was one of the poorest countries in the 1920s and 30s. My father was engaged in the union. I was the first one in my family who graduated from high school. When I graduated, I asked my father: What triggered the change and transformation of Sweden? He said: Infrastructure. Training. And number three: We trusted the people in the state government machine. We put our best people there in government, aencies and institutions. And you know, the party [Socialdemocratic] won power in the 1950s elections promising higher taxes! Higher taxes meant education and elderly care. There you have the history of human rights and the rule of law. The importance of institutions that serve people’s interests”.
So why is it important for Sweden to be a Member if the UN Security Council? Sweden can not lift a veto. But we can expose the great powers of the press. Sweden is the Nordic region. Sweden is the EU. A strong group.
“Sweden has good position in Africa through the legacy of Palme and Hammarskjold. As a small country, Sweden has alliances as a big one. The membership in the Security Council is important. To get through a Security Council resolution you must have nine votes. Many of the non-permanent states work in teams. It was partly the pressure of the non-permanent members who helped that we actually got a resolution on Syria on 18 December” Eliasson says.
During his week in the UN building the journalist Björn af Kleen also meets with the Secretary General, Ban-ki Moon who says:
“I am very grateful to Sweden. You are a peace-loving country. In terms of development and human rights, Sweden is exemplary. Regarding your solidarity and compassion towards other people, especially refugees, you are the number one in the world per capita. I’m very impressed. One day in Sweden during my latest stay, I visited a company that hires refugees and immigrants. A company that actually is controlled by refugees. It motivates them: if this company does well then their own lives will be much better. I visited this company and met many employees – what a great idea! I then spoke with many European leaders: instead of holding them in camps, why not try to stretch the legal passages so that refugees can integrate themselves into society and thus become less of the burden, less friction”.
Kleen asks Ban Ki-moon; As Secretary-General, What have you learned from Dag Hammarskjold, the former Swedish Secretary-General of the UN (1953-1961)?
“He is my rolemodel! Unfortunately, he died in his role during a peace mission. When I was a little boy in elementary school, we learned his name. He was a hero. We all want to walk in his footsteps. His name today is synonymous with people who die during peacekeeping operations. We give them the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal”.
“You told me”, says Jan Eliasson to Ban Ki-moon, “that you wrote a letter to Dag Hammarskjold as a child”.
“Yes, it is a very personal story”, says Ban Ki-moon. “I was in sixth grade. It was 1956. A popular uprising raged in Hungary against the Soviet Union. We children in Korea did not know much about Hungary, but we knew there were revolts for freedom and democracy was going on. We discussed: what should we do? We gathered them all and as a representative of the school, I read out a letter: “Dear Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold. We are very concerned about Hungary. Please help. And when I got elected, in October 2006, I said in my speech that I hope to avoid such letters. But I still get such letters. From the concerned children. So this is my relationship with him. Although I never met Hammaskjöld, he lives with us, he’s living here in the UN building”.
The journalists last question goes to Eliasson: Why are you always working? The answer, “Because I want movement. Because I do not want the world to stand still”.
He is one of the people in the world that I admire most.
This is the article (in Swedish): Jan Eliasson UN
Britain’s EU referendum could lead to the break-up of the entire European Union”, Sweden’s foreign minister warned.
The Minister, Margot Wallstrom told BBC that a domino effect of demands for referendums and requests for preferential terms by member states could follow as a result.
“The spill-over effect will be felt, deeply felt. It would be bad either way,” she said.
The referendum in the UK will take place on 23 June. “A no in the referendum might affect other EU member states tosay: ‘Well if they can leave, maybe we should also have referendums and maybe we should also leave”, Wallström stated.
Ms Wallström also said thst she hoped the UK would remain in the EU, underlining thst Britain is an important trading partner for Sweden, one of Seedens closest partners in the Union and in addition that there are more than 90,000 Swedes living in the country.