Human Rights Council 36th session Statement by H.E. Mr. Timo Soini,Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Human Rights Council, 36th session 11 September 2017, Statement by H.E. Mr. Timo Soini,  Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to address this Council.

This year Finland celebrates the centenary of its independence. Our experience has confirmed the importance of the United Nations’ three pillars. A poor country became a successful society through an early commitment to human rights, universal education, social cohesion and dialogue.

We must always remain open to critical observations by others. Peer review makes one better.

This is what the Universal Periodic Review is about. Finland has carefully reviewed the recommendations given to us in the UPR. And those by the UN treaty bodies. We greatly value all your comments.

Human rights are universal. They must be respected in all circumstances. The Human Rights Council is the key intergovernmental UN body to encourage and demand the fulfilment of these rights.  

In working closely with the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council has a tremendous potential in taking early preventive action and contributing to accountability. Respect for human rights prevents conflicts.

 Mr. President,

A global approach is needed in tackling the refugee and migration challenge. We must go to the root of the issues.

A person is never the problem. His or her situation sometimes is. Lasting solutions are only achieved when human rights, security and development are addressed hand in hand.

Human rights must be extended to everyone, including religious minorities.  We therefore follow with growing concern the situation of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.

The only solution to the heart-breaking conflict in Syria is an inclusive Syrian-led political process under the auspices of the UN. Syrian women must be able to meaningfully participate.

Persons responsible for war crimes and human rights violations must be brought to justice. Impunity can never be accepted. Finland fully supports the work of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism.

Regarding Ukraine, human rights violations continue to be committed in the illegally annexed Crimea. The targeting of Tatars and the Ukrainian speaking communities is unacceptable. Those responsible must be held accountable.  Finland is committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Finland supports the resolution on cooperation with Georgia. We look forward to the reporting by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and encourage all actors to ensure the Office full access to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 

Mr. President,

In Europe, as in many other places around the world, we witness harshening attitudes and restrictions concerning freedom of speech, information and assembly.  Journalists are being detained under false pretences. Human rights defenders, bloggers and others who speak up are being harassed. Freedom of expression, assembly and association are key building blocks of democracy. Every government has a duty to ensure a safe environment for journalists and the civil society.

Also the UN must listen to voices from the grassroots. Last Friday the General Assembly took an important decision on Indigenous Peoples’ participation in UN meetings affecting them.

Mr. President,

Women’s and girls’ rights are key priorities of Finnish foreign and security policy. We hope to see increased efforts in promoting the health of women and girls, particularly in preventing maternal mortality.

The global community must fight all forms of violence against women and girls. This is particularly important in conflict.

Let me be very clear: violence against women is a problem in my country, too. Far too many women have to live in fear for their safety. In protecting women and girls, we must all be held accountable.

To conclude, Mr. President,

This Council is the most important global forum for human rights. We continue to be as committed to the council as ever and hope to be a Member for the term 2022-24.

Thank you.