The National Human Rights Institution of Finland

Composition, Duties and Position of the Human Rights Institution

The National Human Rights Institution of Finland consists of the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Human Rights Centre along with its Human Rights Delegation.

National human rights institutions are independent and autonomous bodies established by law that promote and safeguard human rights. Their position, duties and composition are defined by the Paris Principles, a set of criteria approved by the UN in 1993.

National human rights institutions must apply to the UN international coordinating committee for human rights institutions (the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions or GANHRI) for accreditation. The accreditation status shows how well the relevant institution meets the requirements of the Paris Principles. The ‘A status’ indicates that the institution meets the requirements in full, and the ‘B status’ indicates some shortcomings. The accreditation status is re-evaluated every five years.

The ‘A status’ is considered highly significant in the UN and, in more general terms, in international cooperation. Besides its intrinsic and symbolic value, the A status also has legal relevance: a national institution with A status has, for example, the right to take the floor in sessions of the UN Human Rights Council and to vote at GANHRI meetings. The Finnish Human Rights Institution has also joined the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI). The Finnish institution was a member of the ENNHRI and GANHRI Bureaus until the year 2019.

Renewal of A Status

The Human Rights Centre and its Delegation were established under the aegis of the Ombudsman’s Office with the aim of creating a structure which, together with the Ombudsman, would meet the requirements of the Paris Principles to the best possible extent. This process, which started
in the early 2000s, achieved its objective when the Finnish Human Rights Institution was awarded an A status for 2014–2019 in December 2014.
In December 2019, the National Human Rights Institution of Finland was awarded an A status for the second time, covering the period from 2020 to 2025. The granting of an A status may be accompanied by recommendations on how to improve the institution. The recommendations given to Finland stressed, among other things, the need to safeguard the resources necessary to ensure that the tasks of the Finnish National Human Rights Institution are effectively discharged and that it is able to make its own decisions concerning the focal points of its activities.
In addition, GANHRI emphasised the importance of submitting the Human Rights Centre’s annual report to the Parliament in addition to the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s report.

The Human Rights Institution's Operative Strategy

The different sections of the Finnish National Human Rights Institution have their own functions and ways of working. The Institution’s first joint long-term operative strategy was drawn up in 2014. It defined common objectives and specified the means by which the Ombudsman and the Human
Rights Centre would individually endeavour to accomplish them. The strategy successfully depicts how the various tasks of the functionally independent yet inter-related sections of the Institution are mutually supportive with the aim of achieving shared objectives.

The strategy outlined the following main objectives for the Institution:

  1. General awareness, understanding and knowledge of fundamental and human rights is increased, and respect for these rights is strengthened.
  2. Shortcomings in the implementation of fundamental and human rights are recognised and addressed.
  3. The implementation of fundamental and human rights is effectively guaranteed through national legislation and other norms, as well as through their application in practice.
  4. International human rights conventions and instruments should be ratified or adopted promptly and implemented effectively. 
  5. The rule of law is implemented.