International recruitments are part of Finland’s foreign and security policy

International recruitments to and candidacies for multilateral organisations, coordinated by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, are an integral part of Finland's foreign and security policy. Multilateral cooperation makes Finland a more influential player globally than its size might suggest. In autumn 2023, several Finnish experts were successfully recruited to leadership positions important for Finland.

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“Recruitment of Finnish experts to international positions is one concrete way of supporting Finland's aim to strengthen multilateral cooperation and international rules-based order,” says Ambassador Markku Virri, who is responsible for international recruitment. “Recruitments also promote understanding of multilateral cooperation in Finland,” he says.

Some of the other multilateral organisations besides UN organisations include the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Council of Europe and international financial institutions. 

“The goal is that recruitments increase Finland’s influence in international organisations as Finnish experts can boost their expertise and thinking within these organisations. This will also counteract efforts to challenge the international rules-based order,” Virri says.

Finland contributes in areas where it excels

Multilateral cooperation is an important channel for Finland for influencing international decision-making.

“It is important for Finland’s foreign and security policy to have Finnish experts in key positions in areas where we excel and we are known for,” says Markku Virri.

Finland has considerable expertise in the rights of women and girls, the health sector, information technology and the green transition. 

Finland needs more experts, especially to leadership positions

A comparison between the number of recruitments and Finland’s share of funding and population shows that there would be room for more Finnish experts in international organisations. 

“It is difficult to give a precise estimate of the total number of Finns working for the UN and other international organisations. A conservative estimate is 400–500 people,” Virri says. “Finns are scarce especially in leadership roles.”

Currently three Finns hold a top position in the UN. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), has held the highest-level position, but his term will end at the end of this year.

Two Finns work at the Deputy Secretary-General level. Fewer than 15 Finns currently hold other high-level leadership positions. 

In addition, nearly 80 Junior Professional Officers (JPO), UN Volunteers (UNV) and Special Assistants to the Resident Coordinator (SARC) sponsored by Finland are working for UN organisations. 

“All organisations consider Finns good workers. They would be happy to hire more Finnish experts, but competition for jobs is fierce and often there are few Finnish applicants,” Virri says.

Successful recruitments 

Finns have been successfully recruited to international positions during autumn 2023. 

Kirsi Madi was appointed as Deputy Executive Director for Resource Management, Sustainability and Partnerships at UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). In addition, a Finn was recently appointed as Deputy Director, Financial Mangament for UN Women. 

A Finn has also been appointed as Senior Adviser to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); Senior Deputy Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Gaza; and Team Leader of the Disability Inclusion Strategy at the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. 

Petri Myllymäki, Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at the University of Helsinki, recently became a member of the High-Level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence under the UN Secretary-General(Link to another website.)

Finland will in all likelihood take on the Presidency of the Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for 2024–2026. The decision will be made at the next Assembly of States Parties in December.

Finns have also been appointed to important positions in the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) and the OSCE. The appointments will be published soon.  

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