“Finland now works very actively in protecting and supporting human rights defenders”
-Ambassador Sirpa Mäenpää from the Finnish Embassy in Addis Ababa-
As anticipated at the end of October 2014 by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, on November 27, 2014, the Finnish government presented its new Public Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs). The aim of the publication -as underlined by its title, “Protecting and Supporting Human Rights Defenders”- is to provide tools, information, and good practices to the Finnish Foreign Service staff in order to help them better cooperate, support, and protect HRDs.
The 32-pages document was rolled out by the Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja during a seminar about HRDs that stressed the importance of both protection and international support to their work. Among the panellist were Wilder Tayler -the Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists- and Niina Laajapuro -the Policy Director of Amnesty International Finland.
Historically, Helsinki has always had a strong commitment to the promotion of human rights since 1766. In that year, the world’s first Freedom of Information Act took effect in Sweden and Finland, and a crucial role in its creation was played by the Finnish thinker and politician Anders Chydenius (1729-1803). This long-standing heritage is still part of the Finnish identity, as the Finland’s Secretary of State at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Peter Stenlund made clear during his statement at Human Rights Council on March 3, 2015.
By publishing these Guidelines, Finland is even more committed not only in promoting worldwide human rights but also in protecting those who work everyday for their recognition and implementation. This trend -to recognise and make known the risks that HRDs face during their work- can be noticed in the whole EU through the #idefend campaign -an initiative of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations in Geneva with the aim to express solidarity with HRDs and civil society actors.
For further information:
Publications and Reports (Ministry Official) – here you can find and download the Finnish Guidelines: http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?contentId=238923&nodeId=42553&contentlan=2&culture=en-US
Report of the seminar (Ministry Official): http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?contentId=316774&nodeId=23&contentlan=2&culture=en-US
Statement by the Finnish Secretary of State at the Human Rights Council on March 3, 2015 (Ministry Official): http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?contentId=322463&nodeId=23&contentlan=2&culture=en-US
Human Rights and Finland’s Foreign Policy (Ministry Official): http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?nodeid=32291&contentlan=2&culture=en-US
#idefend campaign: http://idefend-campaign.net/
Anders Chydenius Foundation (English version): http://www.chydenius.net/eng/index.asp