1 The state obligation to protect human rights

1.2 Activities in international organizations [page 14]

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

  • Finland shall bring forward questions related to human rights in international trade and development organisations and direct its support to programs related to business and human rights as part of Finland’s support to international trade and development organisations.
  • Finland supports the cooperation and discussion with the WTO and other essential international organisations such as ILO or WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation), carried out within the framework of the WTO Coherence Mandate.”

1.3 Activities in the EU [page 16-19]


“The promotion of the realisation of human rights is a central part of the EU’s foreign relations. The common EU trade policy is carried out in the framework of the EU foreign relations principles and objectives. The common trade policy applies to third countries outside of the internal market. Member States cannot enact trade policy norms or conclude agreements between each other or with countries outside of the EU. The competencies transferred to the EU are exercised by its institutions. The Commission uses the competence outwards, representing the EU and negotiating on behalf of the Union.

The provisions on competencies and decision-making create the legal framework for the conduct of the EU’s trade policy, but material objectives are not provided for. The objectives are created in the interaction between the Commission and the member states. For Finland, it is essential to get Finland’s own national objectives integrated into the EU objectives.

As a follow-up measure, the working group suggests that in order to reinforce the human rights aspect in the EU trade policy:

  • Finland will support the strengthening of human rights assessments in third countries during EU trade or investment agreement negotiations and when monitoring their implementation. Finland shall make use of the human rights assessments in forming its own opinions related to trade policy positions. Finland supports that human rights will be taken in to account in the EU investment agreements or in potential new bilateral agreements made by Finland.
  • Finland endorses the inclusion of human rights clauses to all EU political framework agreements and their consideration as essentials elements in trade agreements. In trade agreements, Finland shall also endorse clauses enabling an exemption from agreed provisions in cases where the other contracting party violates human rights.
  • Finland shall monitor and influence human rights questions related to trade through the EU Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) by actively participating in the work of the Council of the European Union GSP Working Party and GSP Committee. The objective of Finland is for the system to promote the effective and efficient implementation of human rights in countries benefiting from the GSP. The system covers a special incentive mechanism for sustainable development and good governance (GSP+), a special arrangement for the least developed countries as well as a general arrangement.
  • Finland promotes human rights issues in the framework of bilateral and interregional trade agreements by making use of the work of the monitoring groups for sustainable development of those agreements in matters related to trade and labour rights.
  • Finland is involved in international work in UN decision-making bodies related to communication technologies (such as WSIS and the World Summit on the Information Society) as well as in other central international organisations (such as the Internet Governance Forum, IGF). The objective of Finland is to reinforce the administrative system of an open and inclusive network so that freedom of speech is ensured in the development of the international information society.
  • A report shall be made on how trade and human rights as well as trade and labour rights have been taken into consideration in the free trade agreements of the EU, the United States and some other countries (such as regulation, monitoring mechanisms, dispute settlement and implementation).
    Principal responsible party: Ministry for Foreign Affairs, continuous activities, report by mid-2015.”

3 Expectations towards companies and support services

3.5 Support for Finnish and international organisations promoting the subject [page 28]

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

  • the possibilities of funding new programmes or initiatives be examined. These programmes or initiatives should be related to business
  • and human rights, particularly trade, business activities and rights at work, and they may have significantly positive effects on development.
    Principal responsible party: Ministry for Foreign Affairs, schedule 2014 to 2015.”