Last updated 2/12/2020
Summary of Developments
- Finnish Government study on possible regulatory options for a mandatory human rights due diligence legislative framework in Finland (June 2020)
- Finnish EU Council Presidency’s Agenda for Action on Business and Human Rights for the EU (December 2019)
- Finnish Government commitment to develop mandatory due diligence legislation (June 2019)
- Joint campaign (the #ykkösketjuun campaign) by civil society, business and trade unions (September 2018–June 2019).
The #ykkösketjuun campaign led the new Social Democrat-led government to commit to develop a mandatory human rights due diligence legislation at national and EU level in its official programme released in June 2019.
At national level, the government committed to prepare a study “with the objective of enacting a corporate social responsibility act based on a duty of care imposed on companies regarding their operations in Finland and abroad. This report will be prepared together with confederations and organisations for industries, entrepreneurs and employees, paying special attention to the position of small and medium-sized enterprises.” (Government programme, English version, p.115). The study, commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment to Ernst & Young Oy, involved stakeholders and was released on 30 June 2020. The judicial analysis outlines the nature of the due diligence obligations that could be imposed on companies within a legislative framework in Finland, exploring possible regulatory options, their scope of application, supervision and sanctions. As a follow-up, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment organised a public consultation round on the content of the study. Following consultation, the Ministry will review the comments received and further preparation will be decided separately.
At EU level, the Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union (July-December 2019) made its commitment concrete putting forward an Agenda for Action on Business and Human Rights for the EU (2 December 2019). The Agenda acknowledges the need for "further EU-wide initiatives, including regulation on mandatory human rights due diligence” and contains more than 20 proposals for measures in the fields of public funding, legislation and judicial remedies, trade and development cooperation, among others.
♦ Government programme (in English – p.115; in Finnish – p.118).
♦ Government study: press release and full text (in English).
♦ Finnish EU Council Presidency’s Agenda for Action on Business and Human Rights.
♦ Business and Human Rights Resource Centre coverage.
COALITION CAMPAIGN BY CSOs, COMPANIES AND TRADE UNIONS
In September 2018, a joint coalition of more than 70 civil society organisations, companies and trade unions launched the #ykkösketjuun* campaign calling for a law on UNGPs-based mandatory human rights due diligence to be included in the government programme in the run-up to the 2019 parliamentary elections. Such a law would obligate companies to map their human rights impacts and take steps to prevent and mitigate possible adverse impacts. The campaign also called for the law’s enforcement mechanisms to be based on international best practice. The campaign coalition was coordinated by the NGO Finnwatch. All members of the Finnish society were invited to extend their support for the campaign call, while parliamentary candidates were invited to commit to advancing national mHRDD legislation should they be elected to Parliament.
By April 2019 when the elections were held, the campaign coalition had grown to comprise over 140 civil society organisations, companies and trade unions. Four political parties that went on to form the coalition government had committed to mandatory human rights due diligence as well as 122 out of 200 candidates elected to the parliament. More than 10 000 citizens signed the campaign petition that was handed over to the then leader of the Social Democratic party Antti Rinne, in May 2019, who went on to form the next Finnish government. Following the publication of Prime Minister Antti Rinne’s government programme in June 2019, the #ykkösketjuun campaign came to an end having achieved its goal.
* ‘ykkösketjuun’ is a Finnish term which means ‘to the first line’ as in the lines in ice hockey. It also includes the Finnish word for a ‘chain’ as in value chain, ‘(arvo)ketju’.
♦ Campaign website.
♦ Campaign press release.
♦ Finnwatch website.