Sweden’s bumpy road to NATO membership: Political processes and moral dilemmas

Date: 30 March 2023
Time: 16:30-18:00

Venue: Medelhavsmuseet, Fredsgatan 2 i Stockholm, Hörsalen.

You can watch the video recording of this panel discussion here.

Abandoning its age-old doctrine of military non-alliance in the shadow of Putin’s full-on invasion of Ukraine, the Swedish government swiftly decided to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in May 2022. While some emphasized the broad multipartisan support for the decision in the Riksdag, others found the public deliberation preceding it deficient.

Once Sweden had made its commitment, Turkey made its ratification of the Swedish membership application conditional on Sweden’s extraditing some Kurdish asylum-seekers to Turkey. The Hungarian Parliament professed to be too busy to deal with the ratification procedure, and recently sent a delegation to Sweden for further negotiations. While some underline the significance of each member state’s sovereign right to make its own decisions of supporting the accession, others emphasize the moral limits of exercising that right.

What does Sweden owe its residents in terms of national defense? How should a democracy decide about joining a military alliance? How should we evaluate the process that led to the momentous decision of leaving alliansfrihet behind, and how should we characterize the roadblocks and moral dilemmas Sweden has faced on its way to NATO membership?

In this panel discussion, we will bring ethical, political and historical perspectives to the table, and ask experts in democratic theory, international relations, and security policy to help us get the facts straight and address the tough moral questions and dilemmas head on.


Hans Agné (Professor at Stockholm University, Department of Political Science)
Lisa Bjurwald
(Journalist and author, Bite the Bullet Press)
Magnus Petersson (Professor at Stockholm University, Department of Economic History and International Relations)
Mike Winnerstig (Head of Department, Swedish Defence Research Agency, Security Policy Department)

Moderated by Attila Mráz (Researcher at Stockholm University, Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace)

The seminar will also be available (live streamed) online here.

This event is co-organized by the Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace and the Institute for Futures Studies.