Stockholm, Dec. 9(ChinaEuropeDialogue) –The Government’s human rights policy report stresses action to strengthen equality and gender equality. Finland rejects attempts to undermine the universality of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
The Government approved its human rights policy report on 9 December 2021. The report sets out the international human rights work of Finland, and guides activities at national and EU level together with the National Action Plan on Fundamental and Human Rights. The guiding effect of the report covers several years, with human rights policy reports issued no more frequently than once during the term of office of each government.
The report considers activities at the national, EU and international levels in parallel. Its specific themes are promoting fundamental and human rights in sustainable development, mitigating climate change and protecting biodiversity, digitalisation, access to information, and communications. The report stresses action to defend and strengthen the rule of law.
Human rights and the rule of law are facing challenges in several countries
The report finds a sustained deterioration in the situation for human rights and democracy in dozens of countries, with challenges to progress towards the rule of law. Features of growing authoritarianism include restrictions on freedom of expression and civic activity, and trampling on minority rights. Behaviour that challenges the universality of human rights is becoming increasingly visible, including in UN human rights bodies.
“Finland and the European Union will stand by our own values and defend universal human rights, democracy and the rule of law. These are an integral part of the international rules-based system. We need regulations that apply to all countries, enabling a response to cross-border issues such as climate change and digitalisation,” explains Pekka Haavisto, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Finland’s international human rights work will emphasise gender equality and the rights of indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and sexual and gender minorities, together with the rights of the Roma when working in the European context.
“Non-discrimination and the realisation of gender equality are fundamental and human rights issues of particular importance to us. They are an integral part of international human rights law, and basic pillars of our society. Their realisation requires not only a policy to reduce inequality, but also reinforced participation rights for disadvantaged groups and individuals,” Minister Haavisto continues.
Fundamental and human rights can also be strengthened nationally
Section 22 of the Constitution of Finland enjoins public authorities to ensure the realisation of fundamental rights and human rights. National implementation of the human rights policy report will stress support for non-discrimination, gender equality and the rule of law. The report sets out Government measures concerning issues on which Finland has received numerous recommendations from human rights treaty monitoring bodies, human rights rapporteurs of the UN and European organisations, and country assessments of Finland’s human rights situation. These issues include the status of the Sámi as an indigenous people, violence against women and domestic violence, and gender recognition legislation that respects the right to self-determination.
The report addresses measures to strengthen the rule of law nationally and internationally. Finland will continue its work to realise the rule of law throughout the European Union.
Sustainable development and digitalisation as new themes in fundamental and human rights
There is a close link between fundamental and human rights and sustainable development. Climate change and loss of biodiversity are jeopardising the realisation of fundamental and human rights, and their importance as a human rights issue has grown. The report stresses the principle of ’no one left behind’, and the partcipation rights of civil society as part of sustainable development.
The growth and acceleration of new technology, digital services and communications are creating conditions for monitoring and enforcing fundamental and human rights, and for the functioning of civil society. On the other hand, evolving technology has the potential to infringe fundamental and human rights more broadly in such areas as the protection of privacy and participation rights. The report stresses a lessening of inequality and greater accessibility as part of developing and deploying new technologies and digital services.