Crisis management

Crisis management is a central tool in Finland’s foreign, security and defence policy. It is used to promote security in conflict zones and in global contexts. Finland’s long-standing contribution to crisis management has improved the effectiveness and credibility of Finland’s foreign and security policy. Finland contributes to international crisis management on foreign and security policy grounds, as part of the international community’s burden-sharing and common security building. The participation in crisis management benefits Finland’s international relations and shows that Finland wants to play a role in the resolution of international problems.

Finland's participation in international crisis management

Civilian crisis management: 148 (61 women)
Military crisis management: 427 (women 30)
March 2024, numbers are subject to change day by day due to rotations.

The objective of crisis management is to create stability, alleviate human distress and lay down preconditions for development in areas affected by a crisis.

At the same time, efforts are made to prevent conflicts' escalation. In a world of intensive interdependencies, crises have widespread repercussions.

Finland stresses the comprehensive approach to crisis management. It means, among other things, that its effectiveness is increased by developing the mutual coordination and complementarity of military and civilian crisis management, as well as development cooperation and humanitarian aid.

Civilian crisis management

Finland takes an active part in international civilian crisis management. Civilian crisis management refers to non-military expert assistance dispatched to conflict areas. It seeks to support the functioning of society and strengthen the vital functions of the target state.

Civilian crisis management encompasses conflict prevention and measures aimed at maintaining peace and stability as well as longer-term actions designed to strengthen civil administration, the rule of law, human rights and democracy.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is responsible for the political guidance of civilian crisis management and decides in which missions Finnish experts participate. The costs of the participation are covered from the Foreign Ministry’s budget.

The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for the maintenance, development and coordination of the national preparedness of civilian crisis management in Finland.

The Crisis Management Centre (CMS), a centre of excellence which reports to the Ministry of the Interior, takes responsibility for the training of civilian experts and the recruitment of staff to missions.

Civilian crisis management missions are conducted in crisis areas and in areas where external support is needed to maintain the most critical functions of society. The key priorities in civilian crisis management are the development of the police, the judiciary, the border guard, the customs, the prison system and other administration.

Civilian crisis management missions may also be tasked to monitor peace or ceasefire agreements and to promote minority issues and democracy. It is increasingly common that missions involve a more extensive reform of the target country’s security sector (the army, the police, the border guard, the customs).

The activities range from surveillance and training tasks to different deputising functions in the public authorities, such as the police or the judiciary.

From Finland's point of view, the most central civilian crisis management actor is the European Union. In addition, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) hires Finnish experts to its field missions. Finnish civilian crisis management experts are working in UN-led crisis management missions and operations.

Police advisors with their Somali Police Force counterparts on the occasion of a parade.
Police advisors with their Somali Police Force counterparts on the occasion of a parade. Kuva: EUCAP Somalia / Anu Virtanen.

Moreover, Finland has  seconded civilian experts to NATO missions. Finnish civilian crisis management experts are also serving in EU, OSCE and NATO secretariats and EU delegations, among other places.

Finland seconds more staff to civilian crisis management missions relative to its population than any other EU Member State. Furthermore, Finland seconds some 100 personnel annually to election observation missions of the EU and the OSCE.

Finland aims to increase the share of women in civilian crisis management tasks. At present, about 40 per cent of Finnish civilian crisis management experts are women.

Military crisis management

Finland has participated in international peacekeeping starting from the 1950s. Finland participates in military crisis management missions and operations led by the UN, EU, NATO, and the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh. The focus of crisis management missions is in the Middle East, the Western Balkans and Africa.

Finland’s biggest crisis management contingent serves in the UN-led UNIFIL operation in Lebanon. Other large contingents serve in Iraq (OIR/NMI, around 80 soldiers) and in Kosovo (KFOR, 70 soldiers).

Contribution to international military crisis management is an important part of international burden-sharing. It also strengthens national defence capabilities. All experience in demanding circumstances strengthens the professional skills of personnel.

Instability of security environments in Europe and in Europe’s neighbouring areas and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine make it more difficult to predict the needs and trends of crisis management. Changes in the operating environment and great power rivalry have also been reflected in the debate on over UN missions and operations. New features in the international military crisis management include developing the capacity of regional organisations and strengthening local security structures in conflict areas.

Changes in the international operating environment and the nature of conflicts have made crisis management missions and operations more comprehensive and complex. They include more and more tasks that have non-military elements, such as reconstruction of society and maintaining of stability. There is a fast-growing need for police officers in UN peacekeeping operations.

Crisis management is one of the most visible entities of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (Link to another website.) (Opens New Window)(CSDP). Since 2003, the EU has launched some 30 military and civilian crisis management missions and operations. They have contributed to stabilisation in conflict areas mainly in Europe, the South-Eastern neighbourhood and Africa.

Read more about different missions and operations on  the website of the Finnish Defence Forces(Link to another website.) (Opens New Window).

EU Battlegroups

EU Member States form EU Battlegroups for military crisis management tasks that require rapid response. EU Battlegroups can be deployed on a short-term basis to demanding crisis management missions and operations to support for example UN-led peacekeeping operations.

EU Battlegroups have been fully operational from the beginning of 2007. Two Battlegroups are always on standby for a period of six months so that, if necessary, the European Union would be able to despatch Battlegroups to two different crisis management operations simultaneously.

Rapid response means that battlegroup formations can be in the joint operations area within 10 days following a Council decision to launch the operation. The maximum duration of operations is 120 days.

So far, EU Battlegroups have not been deployed in operations.

Finland has participated in the standby periods seven times. Finland participated in a Germany-led Battlegroup in the latter half of 2020.

Member States’ contribution to the EU Battlegroups, and to the EU’s crisis management missions and operations in general, is voluntary, and each Member State has the right to decide their contribution nationally.

Crisis management and human rights

The most serious human rights violations occur in connection with war and other armed violence. Eradication of human rights violations and support for the development of the rule of law are therefore among the central goals of crisis management.

Finland supports an approach to crisis management that also pays attention to the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights. This will provide the most disadvantaged people opportunities for housing, education and healthcare services.

Finland's crisis management and human rights objectives:

  • Finland will take an active part in the mainstreaming of human rights, humanitarian law and the gender perspective in the crisis management missions and operations of the EU, the UN and the OSCE also in the future. Finland advocates earlier and more extensive participation of human rights experts in the planning, launch and implementation of crisis management missions and operations.
  • Finland’s objective is that the mandate of each mission and operation records clear human rights goals that are realistic from the point of view of the activities.  This would ensure more attention than before to the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights.
  • Finland’s objective is that the number of human rights and gender experts be increased in preparatory bodies on crisis management and in crisis management missions and operations. Another objective is to promote and support women’s participation in lead positions of missions and operations. Systematic attention is paid to gender equality in recruitment.
  • Finland takes part in discussion about ways in which human rights experts’ input could be strengthened in the planning, launch and implementation of crisis management missions and operations.
  • Finland makes use of Finnish human rights and gender experts’ field experiences in the development of the national human rights training.
  • Finland continues to support civil society organisations’ efforts to mainstream the human rights and gender perspective. Finland will also explore new ways of promoting human rights in bilateral peacebuilding and reconstruction processes.