Speech by Secretary of State Torstila at the presentation of candidature for CEDAW

Speech by Secretary of State Pertti Torstila at the presentation of Niklas Bruun’s candidature for CEDAW on 28 March 2012

Your Excellencies, dear Colleagues and Guests,

It gives me great pleasure for me to present to you the Finnish candidate, professor Niklas Bruun for the re-election to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. The candidature of professor Bruun is endorsed and supported by all Nordic counties; Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Promoting gender equality and women’s human rights is a cornerstone in our countries human rights policy both nationally and internationally.

The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women is an important international agreement. It has been ratified by 187 countries, which have committed themselves to the convention’s principles and obligations to protect, respect and fulfill women´s human rights. Finland ratified the CEDAW Convention in 1986 and in 2000 we were among the first State parties to join also the optional protocol, creating an individual complaint procedure.

The Convention has strongly inspired our national legislation and professor Niklas Bruun has been actively involved in putting the Convention’s principles into practise in Finland. When the Convention was included into the Finnish legislation in 1980-1985 professor Bruun took actively part in the process, offering his expertise on gender equality and private and international law. And, when the Finnish Gender Equality Act was revised in 2000-2002, professor Bruun acted as a central figure in the process as a Chairperson of the Committee responsible for the revision work.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is the body of independent experts which monitors implementation of the Convention. The CEDAW committee consists of 23 experts on women’s rights from around the world.

Professor Niklas Bruun has been a member of the committee for the past four years. As a member of the CEDAW Committee, he has gained reputation as an active and constructive contributor to the work of the Committee. From 2011 onwards he has also been member of the Optional Protocol Working Group on Communications.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Promoting women’s human rights and ensuring equal opportunities both men and women is not possible without an active participation of men in the gender equality work. Implementing joint commitments such as the CEDAW Convention principles require the support of both men and women. At the moment professor Bruun is the only male member in the Committee.

Finland finds it very important that the Committee consists of independent and distinguished members with expertise relevant to the Committee’s work. Professor Bruun’s outstanding experience in private and international law, gender equality and labour law both nationally and internationally has proved useful in building up a well-functioning and professional Committee.

Finland stands wholeheartedly behind professor Bruun’s candidature. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has organized this event in order to give you all an opportunity to meet, get to know and engage with our candidate. You are most welcome to ask questions and share thoughts with him during this morning and later.

Thank you.