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Finland

1 The state obligation to protect human rights

1.1 Human rights in Finnish legislation [page 13-14]

“For continuing both the national and international discussion, it would be essential to further clarify features such as the applicability of national legislation to international business activities. For this reason, the working group proposes that as a follow-up measure,

  • a report be commissioned on Finnish legislation in relation to the regulation and guidance of international business activities, particularly to prevent serious human rights violations and to remedy any existing violations.
    Principal responsible party: Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Employment and the Economy and Ministry for Foreign Affairs, schedule by mid-2015.”

2 The state and companies

2.1 The state as an economic operator [page 20-23]

SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE PUBLIC PROCUREMENT

“The Ministry of Employment and the Economy has published a guide to socially responsible procurement9, with practical examples gathered from procurement units, explaining how social aspects can be taken into consideration in each stage of the procurement process. In addition, the Ministry maintains the CSRkompassi.fi website (available in Finnish and Swedish, some material also in English), with information and material for taking social aspects into consideration in long production chains related to public procurement. …

As a follow-up measure, the working group proposes that

  • references to Section 49 of the Act on Public Contracts and to the Guide to socially responsible procurement be added to the procurement guidelines for ministries; and
  • the responsibility themes in the state procurement manual be updated; …
  • A report will be made on the product groups that pose the highest risk for human rights violations. The report would increase the awareness related to responsible procurement and help target the consideration of the social aspect for the product groups that pose the highest risk. …”

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

“As an owner, the state expects that the administration and management of state-owned companies take human rights into consideration in a responsible and transparent manner, both in their own organisation and in their subcontracting chains.

As a follow-up measure, the working group proposes that …

  • When the amended OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance of State-Owned Enterprises enter into force around the end of 2015, the new definitions of policy will be included in the ownership guidance practices of the Finnish state.
    Principal responsible party: Prime Minister’s Office, schedule before the end of 2016.”

3 Expectations towards companies and support services

3.3 Training and counselling [page 27]

“Training plays a crucial role in the promotion of human rights related to business activities. As a party protecting human rights, the state also has the obligation to promote training, communications and counselling related to them. They may target companies, the authorities, and other operators. The Team Finland network (cf. next paragraph) may be used as one of the training channels. Companies may also independently acquire information and training related to human rights from various experts and consultants. However, compared to large companies, SMEs have limited resources for acquiring training related to human rights. For this reason, it is important to provide targeted training for SMEs.

As a follow-up measure, the working group proposes that

  • the distribution of information on the UN principles and on the related interpretive guide published by the UN be ensured14.
  • the need for training and information related to the impact of business on human rights and the responsibilities of Finnish companies with regards to international business activities be examined.
  • training related to the theme of business and human rights be provided to companies. The special emphasis is on SMEs operating in branches of activity that pose a high risk for human rights.
    Principal responsible parties: Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Employment and the Economy in conjunction with business sector organisations, schedule 2014 to 2016.

3.4 Team Finland cooperation [page 28]

“The Team Finland network was established in 2012 to promote the Finnish cause abroad. This entity includes Finland’s financial foreign relations, the internationalisation of Finnish companies, the foreign investments made in Finland and the image of Finland as a country. …

As a follow-up measure, the working group proposes that

  • the Team Finland network provide interactive training on the theme of business and human rights;”
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