Speech by Minister Soini at 60th anniversary of Finland's membership of the UN

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini delivered the closing speech the 60th anniversary of Finland's membership of the UN at Finlandia Hall on Wednesday 9 December. 

Mr. Secretary-General,
Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Friends of the UN,

This celebration has been a true reflection of how we Finns see the United Nations. We respect the UN. We celebrate its achievements. We want to be part of its successes. And we continue to work for the UN. In short, we are a solemn member of the Organization.

Today we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Finland’s membership to the United Nations. So as a senior member, Mr. Secretary General, one can take some liberties. And I shall take one right now by making a special appeal to the UN through you: We wish to see mediation and dialogue on the forefront of UN's work.

Preventing conflicts through diplomacy and negotiations is the best - and most cost-effective - way to work for peace. So why is mediation and conflict prevention not the top priority of the UN members? Conflicts in Libya, Ukraine, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere urgently require political solutions.
The first motto of the UN should be: Peacemaking is possible in every conflict. And the second: Peacemaking is sustainable only if the whole society is involved and if women are able to participate in peace talks and mediation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me pay tribute to Finland's participation in UN mediation activities. Former Finnish Prime Minister Sakari Tuomioja acted as the UN negotiator to Cyprus in 1963. Former president and Nobel Peace Laureate Martti Ahtisaari served as Special representative for Namibia and Kosovo.
I mention only these two, but most work is done by committed individuals from civil society. We are proud of their achievements. And I encourage young people to seek opportunities to promote peace – step by step and word by word.

More recently Finland has focused on strengthening UN mediation capacity. Together with Turkey we chair the UN Group of Friends of Mediation. As result of this work we have a normative basis for mediation, as well as a first global guidance on effective mediation. And we must not stop there. We need to ensure that mediators are equipped with necessary resources, skills and professional back-up -teams.

I would also like to stress the importance of dialogue between different religions and cultures. We have seen that in Africa, Middle-East and Europe violent extremism is trying to use religion and cultural differences to divide our societies. Open dialogues can help to develop understanding and avoid misunderstandings.

Religion is deeply embedded in many peoples' identity and thus in societies. Having discussed with some of the religious leaders,
I am convinced that they should play a greater role in fostering tolerance. We hope to see that the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers could be helpful also for the UN's peace efforts.

Mr. Secretary-General,

Defending human rights is Finland's as well as my personal priority. So let me touch upon this topic before closing this seminar.

Open and dynamic societies are based on respect for human rights. The United Nations continues to be instrumental in working for a dignified life without discrimination. In this context I would like to thank you personally for highlighting the role of civil society and indigenous peoples.

Finland has underlined the importance of human rights as the backbone of the United Nations work. Therefore I am happy to announce that we have decided to seek for membership at the UN Human Rights Council for the term from 2022 to 2024. Our candidature enjoys the support of the Nordic countries. It would be an honor to serve as a member of the Council and continue to promote equal rights for women and men, girls and boys.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Finally, I would like to thank the speakers and performers and everybody present for taking part in this event to celebrate Finland’s UN membership.

We can be pleased of our 60 years of working life at the UN.  Although the UN is already 70 and Finland is rapidly pushing towards that honorable age - neither of us is looking for retirement plans. Rather we aim to serve our common globe actively and faithfully for years to come.

With these words I close this celebration and I thank you for your attention.