Promoting equality is an essential part of civilian crisis management for Finland

Ministry of the Interior 4.5.2018 7.00 | Published in English on 9.5.2018 at 8.51
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Kuva: Kari Kumpulainen

Finland is known around the world as a country with strong expertise in crisis management. Nearly half of the Finnish civilian crisis management experts come from the Ministry of the Interior’s branch of government. The strength of Finnish crisis management is the work done to promote the equality and the integrated approach, in other words cooperation between different parties in stabilising conflict-affected countries.

South Sudan is the world’s newest state, whose short history is characterised by civil war, violence and poverty. Half of the population in the country, which became independent in 2011, live in refugee camps around the country or in nearby states. The unstable situation in this fragile country is reflected in the increase in political violence, crime and human smuggling.

"So far the Crisis Management Centre (CMC Finland) has seconded a total of 13 civilian crisis management experts to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The mandate of the UNMISS mission is to support this new state in peacebuilding and statebuilding, report on human rights following the civil war that erupted in 2013, and protect civilians," says Tiina Ehrnrooth, Senior Specialist at the Finnish Ministry of the Interior.

Finland leads the way in crisis management

In relation to its population, Finland is a world leader in crisis management. Over the years, a total of 549 Finnish people have participated in missions led, for example, by the EU, the OSCE, the UN or the coalition against ISIS. At the moment, nearly 40 per cent of the Finnish civilian crisis management experts are women. The corresponding figure in other European countries is about 20 per cent.

Finland is also a leader in combating violence and sexual crime against women and children in crisis areas. In early 2017, Finland sent a group of police officers to South Sudan, with the aim of introducing practices that promote gender equality. The group’s task is also to take forward the idea of empowering women and female police officers.

"Team thinking specialised in this kind of theme is new in UN peacekeeping missions. Thanks to the group’s efforts, five local police officers from South Sudan who do similar work as their Finnish colleagues will take part in a study visit to Finland next September," says Ehrnrooth.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

In addition to promoting the integrated approach, Finland aims to take account of the connection between internal and external security as part of the work carried out in conflict-affected countries. This includes improving cooperation between the EU’s crisis management and development activities as well as the authorities responsible for the EU’s internal security. Efforts are also made to create new kinds of networks for those involved in crisis management work in Finland.

"The Crisis Management Centre operating under the Ministry of the Interior, the Finnish Defence Forces International Centre FINCENT and the Police University College have joined forces in a project called the Finnish Centre of Expertise in Comprehensive Crisis Management in order to enhance their mutual cooperation and networking. The project will run until September 2018. The aim is to introduce new concrete practices which would bring genuine added value to all parties through the integrated approach and cooperation," says Ehrnrooth.

Civilian crisis management is work carried out within the framework of international organisations which aims to reduce instability in different conflict-ridden countries and to prevent chaotic conditions from spreading any further. Civilian crisis management could, in fact, be described as a bridge between security and development work, aiming to achieve sustainable peace and stability in society. The stabilisation of conflict-affected countries also helps to reduce uncontrolled migration and the spread of crime and terrorism. Therefore, effective civilian crisis management abroad also contributes to security in Finland.

New commitments to EU countries

This year the Council is taking active steps to further develop the EU’s civilian crisis management work, and we can expect to see the introduction of new policy guidelines in late 2018. At EU level, efforts are made to guide civilian crisis management activities in a way that Member States would be bound by certain quotas for seconding experts abroad. This change will also set new requirements for Finland’s national capability.

"The problem with the EU’s civilian crisis management operations is that Member States do not second enough experts and therefore some of the positions remain unfilled. The idea behind the new model is that the European External Action Service, the Commission and the Member States would agree on concrete commitments to cover the shortage of resources," explains Ehrnrooth.

Finland aims to second experts to leading positions

Kauko Aaltomaa, who has previously worked as Director General of the Ministry of the Interior's Police Department, currently leads the EU civilian crisis management mission in the Palestinian territories. The EU Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories, EUPOL COPPS, supports the Palestinian Authority, judicial system and police in building institutions that are in line with the international standards and the principles of the rule of law.
No matter how strong a candidate is, his or her appointment to a leading position in civilian crisis management can never be taken for granted. What is needed in addition to background work is successful lobbying. The candidate’s competence is not the only factor that affects the final decision; the balance between the Member States in the ongoing operations also plays a role in all this. Many large Member States, such as Germany or France, also exert a lot of influence in such decisions.

Finland has been successful in getting leading positions within the EU and the OSCE, despite its small size. It has simultaneously held as many as four top-level positions out of the total about twenty missions. According to Ehrnrooth, Finland’s next goal is to get a position in a UN mission that would be equivalent to the level of police commissioner.

"We still have to work on this. A lot depends on how well we are able to attract police officers making a career in Finland to apply for these positions. Aaltomaa is an excellent example of this, and we hope to see more such applicants," says Ehrnrooth, who is responsible for recruiting Finnish civilian crisis management experts for top-level duties.

Minna Hulkkonen, Ministerial Adviser, and Vesa Kotilainen, Senior Specialist, also work in the Ministry of the Interior’s International Affairs Unit, dealing with civilian crisis management matters. Antti Häikiö, who is currently on leave of absence from his post as ministerial adviser, works as a seconded national expert dealing with civilian crisis management issues at the European External Action Service in Brussels.

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For more information: Finnish experts serving in operations



Tiina Ehrnrooth, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 277, [email protected]

Kauko Aaltomaa, Head of EUPOL COPPS Mission, [email protected]