Monday. 23.09.2019
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Finland’s human rights policy to be updated

Last global trends such as migration, environmental change, advancing technologies and security issues challenge the functioning of the international human rights system. Develop links between human rights and environmental change, gender equality, multilateralism, new technologies and education, among the key objectives listed in a Government study.
Finland’s human rights policy to be updated

"Finland should update the priorities of its human right policy to respond to new challenges". This is the main message of the recent report 'Finland in the international Human Rights System' published by the Finnish Government.

The report explains how global trends of change mean new challenges to the international human rights system and lists 8 key objectives that Finland should pursue. "To pursue a credible human rights policy, the human rights perspective should be better taken into account in Finland’s own actions as well", stressed the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in a press release.

The most recent Government of Finland Human Rights Report published in 2014 served as the point of comparison to the report Finland in the International Human Rights System.

According to the Government's view, during the past five years the global trends of change have started to challenge the functioning of the international human rights system much more clearly than before. The most significant global trends are environmental changes, migration, advancing technologies, and the changing security environment. "Besides the problems involved, however, many of these changes may also offer new opportunities to promote human rights", explained the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The goals to be achieved

The report lists 8 key objectives that the researchers consider Finland should try to achieve in its human rights policy, and recommendations are also given on actions to reach the objectives. Those goals are:

  1. Develop the link between human rights and environmental change on all levels of governance.
  2. Human rights of migrants should be promoted through international coordination.
  3. Keep a human rights based approach to new technologies on the agenda.
  4. When new elements emerge in security agendas, include a human rights approach in the discussions. 
  5. Promote gender equality actively at the time of resistance and anti-genderisms.
  6. Utilise and create new possibilities of cooperation across professional and political silos.
  7. Support the states’ commitment to multilateralism by promoting activities that increase its legitimacy.
  8. Promote a broad concept of participation and the right to education to mitigate the negative impacts of global trends.

Changes in political relations affect human rights

Finnish Government admits that changes in political power relations both in the international context and within different countries have impacts on how the human rights system works. For example, because of the rise of China the international human rights system has become more multipolar than before.

The Ministry also explains that in western countries, in turn, populist movements try to undermine the significance of a rules-based human rights system. At the same time, non-governmental stakeholders such as towns and cities, companies and civil society organisations have an increasingly important role in human rights work. "Many of these changes were already mentioned in the human rights report published in 2014, and many of its themes are such that Finland should continue to pursue them in future".

The Government considers respect for human rights in one’s own country as "the cornerstone of a credible policy". This is why the report also gives recommendations on how Finland could take the human rights perspectives better into account in actions within the country.

The main implementer of the project was Oxford Research. In addition, the research team included experts from WOM World of Management, Radboud University Nijmegen and Opinio Juris. The report was published as part of the implementation of the analysis, assessment and research plan in support of decision-making by the Government (2018).

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