The Swedish TPNW inquiry: Secret reference groups and deleted e-mail accounts


In January this year, former Swedish diplomat Lars-Erik Lundin published his inquiry into Sweden and the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). He concluded that Sweden should not join the TPNW “in its present form”. New information raises major questions around the methods and transparency of the inquiry.

The inquiry has been criticised for lacking transparency. Professor Max Tegmark at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has said that “if Lundin’s inquiry was to be submitted for publication in a scientific journal, it would be refused for substandard records”. Scholars from Swedish Pugwash said that “the author has (according to his/her own claim) talked to about 200 people and it is our impression that he has presented their opinions, but hardly what grounds these opinions rest on. There is no information about who these informants are.”

Last week, Swedish writer Stina Oscarsson published an article outlining her attempts to unveil the inquiry’s methods and sources. Under the Swedish Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act, the public only enjoys the right to read documents that are regarded as official documents.

But when Oscarsson sent a formal request to the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs to obtain the e-mail correspondence of the inquiry, it was declined. The MFA replied that the e-mail account had been closed down and that no e-mails or logs could be obtained.

Did the MFA delete the inquiry’s e-mail account and logs, even if clearly falls into the realm of the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act? That would unacceptable.

Oscarsson also looked into the question of the inquiry’s reference group. The directives for the inquiry specified that such a group was to be established.

When ICAN partner IPPNW Sweden asked Lundin earlier this spring for the list of members of the reference group, he declined to share it. The MFA later replied that the group had included “different representatives” from the MFA and the Ministry of Defense, as well as from the Swedish government agencies the Inspectorate of Strategic Products, the Defense Research Agency and the Radiation Safety Authority. The group did not include any civil society representatives or any other external expertise on disarmament or humanitarian law.

But it gets worse. When Oscarsson asked the MFA how the reference group was established and if there are protocols from its meetings, the MFA replied that ”the contacts with the reference group have been informal” and that there are no protocols or official records to be obtained.

The participating agencies in the reference group were also able to give formal submissions to the inquiry after it was presented. The reference group did not include any representatives from the universities that carry out research into nuclear disarmament, Stockholm university and Uppsala university. Neither were these universities invited to give formal submissions.

Oscarsson finally received the inquiry files from the MFA. She concludes: ”It contains nine e-mail submissions, most of them from peace and disarmament organisations. The final report barely includes a trace of these submissions.”