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Human rights and democracy are fundamentals of Finland’s new development policy

According to the new Finnish Development Policy Action Plan, Finland’s development co-operation is based on developing countries citizens’ and their democratically elected representatives’ ownership of their societies’ development. “In the operation, increasing attention will be paid to human rights and support for the use of each developing country’s own resources for development purposes. At the same time, we will redirect our own work efforts in accordance with the needs of developing countries, global division of duties, and Finnish competencies and strengths,” Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala states.

The new action plan identifies democratic institutions as prerequisites for the development of stable societies. In the future, Finland will thus support civil society, political parties and good democratic governance stronger than before. Also, development aid may be focused as human rights and democracy support to countries that are going through democratic transitions.

Sustainable development requires civil participation and strenghtening of civil empowerment. In countries that recognize civil rights, the possibilities and opportunities are same for everyone, including the minorities. Finland will pay special attention to women and youth’s economic, social and political participation. The new action plan also states that funds can be allocated to activities that strenghten the civil society if there is no possibility for bilateral co-operation.

The primary goal of Finnish development policy is still the eradication of extreme poverty in accordance with the UN Millennium Development Goals. The action plan names three pervading principles: gender equality, climate sustainability and reduction of inequality.

Demo Finland is pleased with the new operational guidelines. “The human rights based approach is very progressive, and human rights and democracy are closely interlinked; one cannot exist without the other”, said Demo Finland’s executive director Tiina Kukkamaa-Bah. She is also delighted that the new plan recognizes political parties and their role in building stable and inclusive democracies.

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