Speech by the Minister of Justice, Ms. Anna-Maja Henriksson on the occasion of the publication of Finland's updated national action plan 1325
Your Excellencies, Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeed very welcome that the new National Action Plan for implementing UN Resolution 1325 is now complete. I would like to extend my warmest thanks to all those having participated in the preparation of it and to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for drafting it.
As Minister of Justice, I am of course especially engaged in those elements of the Action Plan that emphasise the significance of respect for human rights and efforts that strive to prevent impunity as well as those that promote the realisation of criminal liability.
As we all know, several International agreements oblige States to take special measures to protect women and children from gender-based violence such as rapes, which unfortunately have become widely used as means of warfare. For example in the course of the armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, women and young girls were widely subjected to systematic rapes. After such widespread atrocities the situation is unbearable from the viewpoint of efforts to unify the society, if the culprits of systematic rapes are known but the police and the judicial system aren't taking effective measures to bring them to justice.
Finland will continue to stress the importance of respecting the Rule of Law during and after armed conflicts. We consider that effective investigation of war crimes and gross violations of human rights are among the biggest challenges in crisis management operations. We very well know that a bi part of these crimes are directed against civilians and especially against women and children.
In the aftermath of conflicts, after a society has collapsed, an international administration often has to begin the construction of the judicial system from the very beginning - in a situation where old laws have been used as tools for discrimination, or where certain groups, such as women, have been completely denied access to rights. This is not solely a question of criminal law. Also the legislation concerning for example inheritance, property rights, family law and work-related issues may be heavily discriminatory against women. In order to achieve permanent peace and progress in these areas, it is imperative that an impartial judicial system is constructed, the legislation developed, and that structures within the society are created where women are given equal opportunities to access their rights and to participate in decision-making.
Another aspect I want to emphasize which is a central part of the Action Plan is that Finnish crisis management personnel, both civilian and military, have a responsibility to protect human rights and in their own behaviour act so that they do not encourage human trafficking or other criminal activities. We are all too well aware of that if crisis management workers are not well aware of their duties and the circumstances in their areas of operation, they may intentionally or unintentionally act in a way that weakens the position of women and children.
In the Action Plan at hand, women are encouraged to participate in crisis management operations. The target level is 40 %, which I think is a good ambition. There are in fact relatively many women working in the judicial field in Finland and the level of expertise is high. This expertise has already been used in different civil crisis management missions. And I am proud to notice that within my own sector we already meet these requirements. More than one third of Finnish judges, prosecutors, judicial counsels and experts in prison service trained for civil crisis management missions have been female. This will most likely be the situation in the judicial field also in the future, but the biggest challenge is to get more female police officers and female military personnel to participate in crisis management missions.
We shall now take rapid measures to implement this second and updated National Action Plan at hand.
Finally, I would like to thank you all for participating in this event (and for the valuable and interesting discussion.