A presentation of Folk och Försvar

Society and Defence

Folk och Försvar (Society and Defence) is a politically and religiously independent association of democratic nationwide organisations in Sweden. Our members stand up for peace, security and freedom. Through their membership in Folk och Försvar, they also emphasize the importance of public discussion and education concerning security policy, defence policy and societal security.

Vision

Folk och Försvar’s vision is to generate insights about issues and processes that influence peace and freedom in our surroundings. It is our firm belief that a plurality of views contributes to the development of policymaking. We aim to be an open arena in which people with different opinions can engage in the development of defence and security policy.

History

The association of Folk och Försvar was initiated in 1940 with the task to "build a bridge between the society and the defence". At that time, during the beginning of the Second World War, there was a need of an increased understanding of defence policy amongst Swedish citizens. Folk och Försvar was established on the initiative of Swedish political youth leagues, labour unions and voluntary defence organisations.

Folk och Försvar has nearly 70 member organisations today, including several defence organisations, political youth organisations, NGO: s, trade unions and representatives of Swedish business, trade and labour federations. We develop education programs and stimulate public debate on defence and security policy.

Mission and organisation

Our goal is to:

  • Generate insights in the area of military and societal security in Sweden, by the provision of objective information on the security and defence policy of the Swedish Parliament and the Government.
  • Promote the debate of security and defence policy, including societal security, by providing arenas for open discussion with a plurality of opinions.

We do this by:

  • Courses, educations, seminars, conferences and study tours.
  • Informative publications and debates about defence policy, security policy and societal security.

Activities

Rikskonferensen(the Annual National Conference)

Folk och Försvar’s Annual National Conference (Rikskonferensen) is the foremost meeting-place for the Swedish security and defence policy community. The conference is held each year in January at a major winter resort in Sweden. Regular speakers include the Minister of Defence, the Minister of International Aid and the Supreme Commander. The Swedish Prime Minister has participated in the conference, as well as several prominent international representatives.

Rikskonferensen assembles 300 participants and 30-40 speakers for three days of lectures, discussions and debates, intertwined with socializing and skiing. The conference encourages formal as well as informal discussions between parliamentarians, representatives from trade and industry, political parties, government authorities, youth organizations and various NGO: s.

The conference receives extensive media coverage. The Annual National Conference 2011 was covered by over 35 journalists and was broadcasted by the national Swedish television SVT.The conference was referred to in a number of news articles, blogs and on Twitter. Rikskonferensen is also broadcasted live via Folk och Försvar’s own website: www.folkochforsvar.se.

Introductory Training in Security Policy

Folk och Försvar organizes an introductory training in security policy called “Let’s rule a country!”. It is a role-play exercise, aimed mainly towards high school students, university students and youth politicians. The purpose of “Let’s rule a country!” is to create an understanding of the mechanisms of international relations. The participants assume the role of government officials in various fictional countries. Each government face its own sets of policy challenges which have to be solved with a shortness of time and less-than-perfect information. We arranged 503 “Let’s rule a country!” sessions during 2010, with over 12 000 participants all over Sweden.

We also arrange a role-play exercise for journalist students, during which the students are asked to gather information and produce news in the face of a fictional interactive scenario.

Seminars and Panel Discussions

Folk och Försvar arranged about 50 seminars and debates during 2010 on topics such as NATO’s new strategic concept, Russian domestic and foreign policy, Baltic Sea cooperation, political and religious extremism and feminist perspectives on security policy. Amongst the participants are researchers, MP’s, journalists and government officials as well as students and NGO representatives. Our seminars are always open to the public.

Study Tours

We usually conduct two study tours each year. The tours give representatives from our member organisations, politicians, journalists and employees from different government agencies the opportunity to visit other countries and learn about their security and defence policies first-hand. Folk och Försvar’s study tours are often conducted with support from local Swedish embassies. The tours usually include visits at government ministries and agencies, research institutes and think thanks. We have visited, amongst other locations, Brussels, Moscow, Berlin, Beijing, Warsaw, Washington, Sarajevo and Tbilisi.

Finances

The activities of Folk och Försvar are financed mainly through a grant from the Ministry of Defence (4,5 million SEK or approx. € 447 000), but also through membership fees (0,5 million SEK or approx. € 50 000). Some projects are financed partly by project contributions.