Finland joined the Community of Democracies as its mission is in line with the aspirations of our government. The promotion of democracy, the rule of law and human rights are among the key objectives of the Finnish Government.
The Community of Democracies brings together a unique coalition of democratic governments, civil society organizations and other actors that support democratic development. The recent upheavals in a number of countries highlight the growing need for international cooperation in promoting participatory democracy.
As Minister of Justice of my country, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the need to involve all groups in democratic processes. Yesterday, Finland, together with South Africa and UN Women, organized a side event on Women’s Access to Justice. Active measures continue to be needed to secure that women can ensure their rights on an equal footing. Knowledge on human rights and democratic processes need to reach women and girls, too.
Furthermore, democratic societies need to make sure that minorities and indigenous peoples in practice have equal rights with regard to access to justice. As Finland, for instance, is a bilingual country, an individual can access court proceedings in his or her own language, Finnish or Swedish. Also the Sami, the indigenous people of Finland, can in their homeland area use their own language in contacts with authorities. We are currently taking special measures to promote the inclusion of especially young people and immigrants in the democratic processes of my country. We are also amending the Equality legislations in order to enhance the protection against all forms of discrimination in practice.
I believe Finland can share some good practices of promoting equality in the area of the rule of law and democracy. However, I do not think that any country can present itself as a model for others – every country has to find its own path to democracy and every government has to take responsibility for its own decisions. In terms of democracy and human rights, no country is perfect – but sharing experiences and pooling resources helps us get closer to these goals.
I thank you.