Press release 178/2013
26 August 2013
A responsible and human rights-based foreign policy also serves Finland’s interests, Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala stressed on 26 August when addressing the Finnish ambassadors convened in Helsinki.
“We get bad news weekly about persecution of those defending human rights, and civil society is under increasing pressure in many countries. This news does not come from some reality of its own but from the same countries with whom we are engaged in wide-ranging foreign policy. For this reason, human rights and foreign policy cannot be kept separate,” she stated.
The Minister pointed out that development policy and development cooperation are making great strides in implementing the human rights perspective in practice. Groups in the weakest position receive the greatest emphasis in this work. Hautala stressed, however, that global problems are not solved by development policy alone.
“It is not sustainable if development cooperation must be used to maintain the health care system in a developing country while at the same time enterprises minimise their payment of taxes in the country in question, or if the country’s own agricultural production is not profitable owing to tax-subsidised EU agricultural exports.”
Hautala said that these issues play a key role in planning the post-2015 global development goals. It is difficult to find agreement if developing countries believe that industrialised countries are only pursuing their own interests. According to the Minister, Finland would be well placed to act as a bridge builder between the North and the South.
“We must also be prepared to change all of the practices that cause and maintain poverty and inequality. At the same time, we have to look in the mirror: Earth cannot sustain our current production and consumption practices.”
Finland’s objective already at present is to free developing countries from their dependency on aid. For example, Finland supports the development of good governance for natural resources so that the benefits of natural resources are distributed fairly and to the advantage of the country’s own citizens – and do not flow out of the country. This work is also done in so-called fragile states suffering from conflicts or recovering from them, where the role of Finland’s development cooperation is growing.
In her speech, Minister Hautala also stressed the importance of transparency. She noted that the authorities and civil society in Finland have a long history of good cooperation; this also holds for the Foreign Ministry. Hautala considers it important that the policy of transparency is continued and developed further.
“In the spirit of Open Aid, we will soon launch a section on the Foreign Ministry’s website where everyone can see, more easily than before, where and how development funds are spent,” the Minister stated.
Additional information: Milma Kettunen, Press Attaché to Minister Heidi Hautala, mobile tel. +358 40 522 9869