Introduction [page 11]

“The third important element [of the UNGPs] is the access of victims of human rights violations to effective legal and non-legal remedies.”

1 The state obligation to protect human rights

1.1 Human rights in Finnish legislation [page 13]

“Fundamental rights (such as equality, freedom of movement, protection of privacy, freedom of association, freedom of speech and the right to social security and judicial protection) have been included in the Constitution.”

4 Access of victims of human rights violations to legal remedies [page 30-31]

“The realisation of human rights requires that the victims of human rights violations may have their situation assessed and remedied. For this reason, the existence of sufficient legal remedies or other settlement or compensation proceedings is crucial. These procedures may be legally binding or optional.

The starting point is that the activities of the state and the national control of business activities are in harmony with international conventions and national legislation.

The autonomy of Finnish tribunals is guaranteed, legal expenses are small, and those without sufficient financial means for legal aid are entitled to free counselling. However, in order for the victims of human rights violations to have access to legal remedies, they must be aware of their rights. In addition to the authorities, labour market organisations and non-governmental organisations have been assigned the important task of helping employees – particularly employees in a vulnerable position – in defending their rights and using legal remedies. The organisations also distribute information on rights and provide counselling. Finland has a strong tradition of cooperation between the authorities, labour market organisations and non-governmental organisations. These strengths can also be used in activities carried on outside Finland’s borders.

Finland is actively involved in reinforcing the development of the rule of law on an international level and supports the development of the legal sector in developing countries. It is also involved in the cooperation for promoting international human rights obligations and the control of fundamental rights in working life.

It is important to emphasise the use of preventive measures (such as consultations and settlement proceedings) at a sufficiently early stage to prevent or decrease the adverse impacts on human rights that may be related to business activities. Companies are encouraged to increasingly use non-binding complaint mechanisms related to human rights and to cooperate with non-governmental organisations.

Trade unions and non-governmental organisations play an important role in securing human rights and rights at work. Finland cooperates in various ways with human rights defenders and non-governmental organisations exposing corruption. Mainly within the framework of EU cooperation, Finnish representatives are involved in the monitoring of legal processes on a case-by-case basis when monitoring is believed to have a positive impact on the protection of the rule of law.

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

  • Finland participate in the discussion on developing legal remedies carried out in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council.
  • Finland support non-governmental organisations, which follow human rights issues related to business activities and support the victims of human rights violations.
    Principal responsible party: Ministry for Foreign Affairs, continuous activities.”