Human rights

Geneva is central to international human rights policy. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Office of the United Nations Human Rights Council and offices of several non-governmental organisations specialising in human rights are located in Geneva.

Human rights and Finland

The promotion of human rights is a key part of the activities of the Permanent Mission of Finland in Geneva. Finland’s long-term human rights priorities have traditionally included non-discrimination and the promotion of the rights of persons in vulnerable situations, indigenous peoples, women and persons with disabilities.

Human Rights Council

In spring 2006, the UN General Assembly established the Human Rights Council, which replaced the Human Rights Commission established in 1946. The role of the Human Rights Council is to promote and to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms worldwide.

The Human Rights Council has 47 member states, one third of which change annually. The member countries of the Council are selected at the UN General Assembly in New York on the basis of a geographical division of country groups. Finland was elected as a member of the Council in the first elections in May 2006 for one year period. Finland is a member of the Human Rights Council during the period 2022–2024.

Each year the Council convenes to three main sessions, wherein it by diverse means seeks to prevent and address human rights violations. All the Member States of the UN are allowed to attend the main sessions but only elected members of the Council are entitled to vote. The Council has at its disposal several special mechanisms, such as special rapporteurs, independent experts and working groups that submit reports to the main sessions of the Council.

When necessary, Council can also hold special sessions.

The Universal periodic review (UPR) studies the human rights situation of each Member State every 4 to 5 years. The reviews are conducted three times a year. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights compiles a document of the human rights situation of the state under review, gathering information from a variety of sources. The state under review is also entitled to submit in writing its own statement concerning the situation. The other Member States of the UN are entitled to participate in the review and present comments and questions to the state under review. After the exchange of views, the Secretariat shall prepare a draft report, which includes conclusions of the human rights situations of states under review and possible recommendations for improvement. The human rights situation in Finland was reviewed in 2017.

In addition to the Human Rights Council, there are several thematic work groups operating in Geneva.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)(Link to another website.) was created based on the recommendations of the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993.  Austrian Volker Türk t assumed the post as the ninth High Commissioner for Human Rights in August 2022. The High Commissioner and the Office spearhead the human rights work of the United Nations.

In the work of the Office, priority is given to addressing the most pressing human rights violations and protecting the most vulnerable. The Office promotes civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. The Office works closely with the UN, governments and civil society to ensure that international human rights standards are implemented and respected.

Finland supports the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and is pleased to have increased its contributions to 9M Euro for the year of 2022. Strengthening of the Office of the High Commissioner and its core functions via the regular budget of the UN is one of Finland's main objectives in the UN.

Further information:

Human Rights Centre(Link to another website.) (Opens New Window) (Finland)