The aims of the Council of Europe, promotion of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, coincide with the main objectives of Finland’s foreign policy.
Within the work of the Council of Europe Finland emphasises inter alia the following issues:
- development of the Council of Europe as a pan-European organisation and integrating all member states to the work of the Council and supporting their efforts to adopt and implement the norms and standards of the organisation
- further development of the monitoring system
- further enhancement of the co-operation between the Council and other international bodies, such as the EU, the OSCE and the UN.
- development and monitoring of norms related to minority issues
- promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity and tolerance
- further development of the social dimension
- support to the office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, which has been established on the initiative of Finland, to be one of the key mechanisms of the Council of Europe in reinforcing human rights in the member states
- implementation and further development of the Convention on Human Rights
The staff of the Representation represents Finland at the Deputies’ meetings of the Committee of Ministers and at its rapporteur groups. A great number of Finnish experts participate in intergovernmental activities, which is an important part of the work of the Council. This work has resulted, inter alia, in an important number of international agreements and recommendations which guide the member states’ activities.
The Permanent Representation of Finland to the Council of Europe was established in Strasbourg in 1989 when Finland became a full member of the Council. Being a part of the Finnish Foreign Service abroad, the Permanent Representation takes care of Finland’s representation in the Council of Europe. It is led by an ambassador who is assisted by a staff of 5 persons: two officials (Deputy Permanent Representative and Administrative Officer) and personnel employed locally.
The work of the Representation is governed by the Council’s meeting calendar. The officers of the Representation participate in the weekly meetings of the Committee of Ministers at deputy level and in the rapporteur groups’ work. It is their duty to see to that the viewpoints of Finland are taken note of in the discussion.
The preparative work before a meeting consists of getting familiar with the material and consulting relevant experts in the capital about the subject matter at hand. Afterwards relevant parties are informed about outcomes normally by a written report. In order to be able to defend Finland’s interests at any given time, the Representation has to actively follow international developments which are related to the activities of the Council of Europe. The Representation follows not only the work of the Committee of Ministers but also the work of the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. Another important function is to follow the work of the European Court of Human Rights because the Committee of Ministers is in charge of overseeing that its decisions are implemented.