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Finland

Government covering note on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights National Action Plan

“The identification and management of human rights problems has been recognised as a challenge in companies operating at the international level. As a rule, Finnish companies deal responsibly with human rights issues and support their implementation. Despite this fact, the possibilities for a single company to identify human rights risks and rectify them are limited. This is why international co-operation, more efficient distribution of information, more effective enforcement of existing legislation and existing human rights conventions (e.g. ILO core conventions), transparency and the proper promotion of regulation for various actors should be emphasised in the promotion of human rights. The Team Finland network should also be more effectively developed to assist companies in understanding, taking notice of and managing human rights issues, particularly in areas where human rights risks are considerably high. The work of NGOs should be supported in accordance with the action plan drafted by the working group.”

Ownership policy and social responsibility

“Companies with a controlling interest held by the State assess the human rights risks of their own operations and those of their subcontractor chains, reporting on them and their own tax procedures.”

1 The state obligation to protect human rights

1.3 Activities in the EU [page 18-22]

TRADE POLICY

“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.”

PUBLIC FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS RELATED TO DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION

“Finland’s official export guarantee company, Finnvera, uses policies updated on 1 January 2013 for evaluating the environmental and social effects of projects. When granting export credit guarantees and confirming export credit guarantee conditions, the environmental and social impacts of the project in question are taken into consideration as part of the project’s total risk assessment. The development of Finnvera’s environmental and social impact assessment is continuing in accordance with the OECD Common Approaches agreement. As with other public export credit companies, Finnvera also reports on its progress at the expert meetings related to the OECD agreement.”

3 Expectations towards companies and support services [page 24]

“The Finnish state is committed to promoting the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Although following the guidelines is voluntary for companies, the Finnish government expects companies to observe them. Companies’ obligation to respect human rights includes various actions to proactively mitigate the risk of human rights violations. This may be done for instance by including a human rights assessment in the company’s risk management system or by carrying out various special measures.

A careful human rights risk assessment and careful prevention has favourable long-term effects on the company’s own business activities.”

3.1 Clarification of due diligence [page 25]

“If the company has a lot of suppliers, it should identify the areas where the risk of adverse impacts is highest and contribute to the prevention of these risks.”

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

“Defenders of human rights, trade unions and other civil society operators can play an important role in the assessment of the impact of business activities on human rights, the availability of legal remedies and national and international discussion.”

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