Analysis by the Development Policy Committee: Finland’s development policy needs a more ambitious human rights based approach

An increasingly tense international situation, prolonged conflicts, catastrophes exacerbated by climate change and the questioning of the justification for human rights are further increasing the need for a human rights based development policy.

This view is shared by the Development Policy Committee, whose analysis of the current situation examines the realisation of the human rights based approach in Finland’s development policy and development cooperation.

“In the increasingly tense global situation, it is important to ensure that foreign and security policy remains strongly human rights based across government terms,” says Member of Parliament Inka Hopsu (Greens), who chairs the Development Policy Committee.

In a human rights based approach, human rights and related obligations guide the setting of goals for development policy and development cooperation. At the heart of it are respect for human rights and their protection and promotion. The Development Policy Committee underlines that particular attention should be paid to people and groups of people whose human rights are least likely to be realised. The duty bearers responsible for the realisation of rights must also be influenced. The guiding principles are participation and inclusiveness, non-discrimination and equality as well as accountability and transparency.

More ambition is needed across the board

According to the Development Policy Committee’s analysis, the human rights based approach of Finland’s development policy has improved in recent years, and human rights are better taken into account in development cooperation. However, Finland should take an even more ambitious approach, so that development policy would promote human rights and tackle human rights challenges more actively in future. This requires political will, clear target-setting, competence and appropriate resourcing from all parties.

Although the human rights based approach has been taken into account in the planning of development cooperation, there is great variation in its implementation and monitoring. The Development Policy Committee considers it important that a human rights based approach is consistently implemented throughout all development cooperation channels, measures and levels. This applies not only to development cooperation but also more broadly to a range of policy areas, Finland’s external relations as a whole and international advocacy work.

The rules-based international system and the human rights that form an essential part of its normative base are increasingly questioned. This also complicates Finlands endeavours. For example, gender equality and the rights of women and girls as well as the rights of gender and sexual minorities are questioned in both national and international arenas. The Development Policy Committee sees that these challenges make Finland’s investments in human rights based development policy and development cooperation and in foreign and security policy more important than before. This highlights the importance of Finnish advocacy work at the international level, especially in the UN and the EU.

The full analysis is available on the Development Policy Committee's website (in Finnish)(Link to another website.).

Appointed by the Government for its four-year term of office, the Development Policy Committee is the only body monitoring and evaluating Finnish development cooperation and policy on a systematic and broad basis.


  • Marikki Karhu, Secretary-General of the Development Policy Committee, tel. +358 50 525 8649,
  • Inka Hopsu, Chair of the Development Policy Committee, tel. +358 40 758 9545,