Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Norwegian Thorbjørn Jagland visited Finland on 17 September and met with Foreign Minister Timo Soini. They discussed the current situation and crises in Europe as well as central human rights issues in Europe. Secretary General Jagland also met the President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö, Speaker of Parliament Maria Lohela and the Finnish delegation to the Council of Europe.
During the current crises and conflict situations, the Council of Europe has highlighted the central importance of human rights to security and stability. The Council of Europe supports actively the strengthening of human rights and the rule of law and the constitutional reform in Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine are member States of the Council of Europe.
The topical refugee situation in the Mediterranean Sea has shown on the Council's agenda. Due to the nature of the organisation's mandate, it considers the matter from the human rights point of view.
Founded in 1949, the Council of Europe is an organisation of 47 member States. For Finland, the Council has traditionally been an important foreign policy forum and Finland has actively contributed to the development of its activities. The best-known of its bodies is the European Court of Human Rights. The member States are bound by the human rights agreements and the mechanisms monitoring compliance with their implementation. For example, the institution of the Commissioner for Human Rights, established on Finland's initiative, has developed into a very significant and powerful human rights actor under the Council of Europe.
Photograph: Marko Huttunen