Finnish Chairship of the Freedom Online Coalition
Finland will chair the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) in 2021, which marks the 10th anniversary of the organisation. Serving as Chair of the organisation is part of the foreign and security policy pursued by Prime Minister Marin’s Government.
Finland’s Chairship of the FOC will culminate in the organisation’s annual conference on 2–3 December in Helsinki. Matters on the agenda while Finland is chairing the FOC are coordinated by the Unit for Human Rights Policy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Priorities of the Finnish Chairship
Finland has set the following goals for the year:
- We will develop the FOC’s activities as part of the promotion of human rights and democracy
- We will support the open internet as part of sustainable development — especially in Africa
- We will continue the fight against disinformation and promote a safe internet for all.
In the 2020s, the FOC’s role as a human rights organisation is more critical than ever before. Authoritarian administrations use digitalisation to bolster their own power, and the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted freedoms online even more than before. The FOC promotes a free, open and safe internet, which strengthens democracy and human rights.
Open internet access for as many people as possible is a fundamental aspect of sustainable development. As the Coalition Chair, Finland will focus on widening the visibility and effectiveness of the organisation geographically. Finland aims to increase the FOC’s collaboration especially in Africa.
The Chair's third goal is to support the fight against disinformation and to promote a safe internet for all. Finland will work to advance the use of the Joint Statement on Spread of Disinformation Online, which was prepared under the leadership of the governments of Finland and the United Kingdom, and to strengthen the FOC’s presence in the global processes related to cybersecurity, innovations and digital development under way in the UN.
Freedom Online Coalition in a nutshell
The Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) is the most important intergovernmental organisation that promotes free, open and safe internet. It is a partnership of 32 member governments, which are committed to protecting and promoting online freedoms domestically and globally. The FOC creates global norms, exercises influence on global forums, and raises awareness of the objectives relating to human rights online.
The FOC was established in 2011. The Chair of the Coalition changes yearly. The Coalition Chair is responsible for the organisation's daily activities and for coordinating meetings to be held in connection with international conferences. In addition, the Chair organises the annual Freedom Online Conference.
The Chair is assisted by the Friends of the Chair, which is a group of FOC members. In 2021, the members are Canada, Estonia, Germany, Ghana, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and the USA.
The FOC Support Unit is a technical secretariat, which assists the Coalition and its members by taking care of the preparation and practical arrangement of FOC meetings and events, including hosting of meetings and both internal and external communications. Currently, Global Partners Digital, a social purpose company based in London, serves as the FOC Support Unit.
The FOC Advisory Network (FOC-AN) consists of representatives of non-state internet stakeholders and human rights organisations as well as researchers. It is tasked to express its opinion on questions in the field and to assist the FOC in formulating its positions. At present, the FOC has two multi-stakeholder working groups focusing on different themes, one on artificial intelligence (AI) and another on digital equality. Finland supports the activities of both groups.
Rauno Merisaari, Ambassador for Human Rights and Democracy , +358 295 350 974
Janette Sorsimo, Project Assistant, +358 29 535 0586
The Foreign Ministry’s email addresses are in the format email@example.com.