Finland

Session reviewed: 27th session of the Universal Periodic Review
Date reviewed: May 3, 2017

Recommendation

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Canada thanks Finland for its presentation, congratulates Finland on its 100th anniversary of independence this year, and applauds its continued commitment to strengthen and improve human rights both at home and abroad.

Canada recommends that Finland:

  1. Mobilize adequate resources to complete its Second National Action Plan on Fundamental and Human Rights.
  2. Establish a national coordination unit and provide adequate financial and other support for the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
  3. Remove the requirement of infertility or sterilisation before an individual may change their gender on legal documents.

Canada commends Finland for its continued commitment to improve respect for human rights in Finland, and its efforts to strive for the principles of non-discrimination, equal opportunities, and transparency.

Canada congratulates Finland on the number of recommendations accepted including the voluntary pledges made during its Second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and encourages the full implementation of these recommendations.

Background

According to UPR Info, a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) that tracks the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, in the first two cycles of the UPR, Finland received 104 recommendations, of which 99 were accepted (an acceptance rate of 95%).

Finland’s Second National Action Plan on Fundamental and Human Rights (2017-2019) aims to focus on fundamental and human rights education, equality and non-discrimination, the right of individuals and groups to self-determination, and fundamental rights and digitalisation. The Plan contains 43 projects to be delivered by several ministries. Independent supervisors such as the Finnish Human Rights Center, the Human Rights Delegation, special ombudspersons and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will evaluate the Plan’s implementation.

In 2016, Finland was the seventh-largest donor to UN Women and the largest financial supporter of the Council of Europe fund for combating violence against women. However, according to a survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (Spring 2014), Finland was one of three European Union (EU) Member States with the highest percentage (30%) of women who had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a former or current partner. The EU average at that time was 22%. Finland was also one of three Member States with the highest percentage (53%) of women who had experienced psychological violence by a current or former partner.

At the end of 2014, the Finnish Parliament adopted legislation for gender-neutral marriage. However, the Ombudsman for Equality and Non-Discrimination has stated that the current Act on the Legal Recognition of the Gender of Transsexuals violated the right to self-determination of transgender persons and that the Act should be amended so that sterilization or infertility would no longer be required to change gender in official documents.

At the end of 2016, Finland, Norway and Sweden successfully agreed on a Nordic Sámi Convention addressing the Indigenous Sami people that live in Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Russia. The Convention, negotiated jointly with representatives of the Sámi Parliament from the three Nordic states (Finland, Norway, and Sweden) aims to enhance the status of the Sámi as an Indigenous people and to strengthen and consolidate their rights within and across borders.

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