Finlands human rights situation scrutinised by the international community today
On 23 May, Finland participates for the second time in the universal periodic review (UPR) undertaken by the UN Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council reviews the human rights situation of all UN Member States at intervals of roughly four years. In practice, the review taking placing in Geneva means a dialogue of three and a half hours between the Finnish delegation of experts, led by Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala, and other UN Member States. The UPR dialogue is one of the main events in Finlands human rights policy this year.
During the dialogue, UN Member States pose questions to the Finnish delegation about the national human rights situation and give recommendations on how to develop it. The focus of the second UPR cycle is on the implementation of earlier recommendations and on the development achieved after the previous cycle. After the review, Finland is required to prepare the national implementation of the recommendations it has adopted.
The dialogue can be followed freely as a UN webcast (link below). In addition, representatives of the authorities, organisations and human rights actors have been invited to an event arranged by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, where the dialogue can be followed via a live video broadcast. The convenor of the event is Human Rights Ambassador Ann-Marie Nyroos.
Finlands starting points in the review are openness, broad-based social consultations, preparedness for constructive dialogue and self-critical review, and the importance of coherence between national and international human rights policy. Through the countrys own input, Finland also supports the development of the universal periodic review into an increasingly weighty international instrument for promoting human rights.
Preparation for the review has been a joint project encompassing all of the State administration under the leadership of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Finlands large delegation of experts includes representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Environment, and the Permanent Mission of Finland in Geneva. Johannes Koskinen, Chairman of the Constitutional Law Committee of the Finnish Parliament, is also part of the delegation. The observer members of the delegation are Tiina Sanila-Aikio, Vice-Chair of the Sámi Parliament, and Martta October, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Board on Human Rights, who represents civil society organisations.
Finland submitted a national report to the UN in March, to serve as background for the review. The report describes the realisation of fundamental and human rights in Finland and the implementation of the recommendations adopted during the first review cycle in 2008. Among other things, the report includes the commitment to more effective monitoring of fundamental and human rights implementation.
Civil society played an important role in the compilation of the national report. Apart from the Government and the authorities, the active participation and support of civil society will also be needed when the recommendations received during the review are put into practice.
Additional information: Erik Lundberg, Head of the Unit for Human Rights Policy, tel. +358 9 160 55 349, mobile tel. +358 40 352 0955; Maria Kurikkala, Diplomatic Adviser to the Minister for International Development, tel. +358 9 160 56 516, mobile tel. +358 400 735 991; Milma Kettunen, Press Attaché to the Minister for International Development, tel. +358 9 160 56 435, mobile tel. +358 40 522 9869