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Speeches, 4/13/2018

Opening remarks by Minister Soini at the Launch of Finland’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security

Opening remarks by Foreign Minister Timo Soini at the Launch of Finland’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security for 2018-2020, Helsinki 13 April 2018.

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Let me start by welcoming the UN Women Executive Director, Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka to Finland. We are very honored that the launching of the Third National Action Plan can be done in your presence. It gives us the possibility to show our commitment to womens' empowerment.

Today’s world is marked by conflicts and significant changes in the international security situation. Therefore, it is important that everyone who can contribute towards more peaceful and secure societies can do so. Both women and men. This is why we need the 1325 -goals.

Finland is serious about its commitments. Activities, priorities and also responsibilities have been included in the third National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security – that we are launching today. The NAP has been a whole-of-government effort. And this is a necessity, because 1325 requires a comprehensive approach to security.

Let me run through the main objectives of the NAP:

We all need to learn from the past. So the current Action Plan tries to take into account the recommendations of the assessment of the previous NAP. We have also sought guidance from outside. When developing national action plans we have engaged in mutual learning with for example Afghanistan, Nepal, Kenya and Jordan. We are recognized for these partnerships and strategic thinking.

In the development field we need to continue focusing on women and children. In the recent OECD/DAC peer review Finland was called a “1325 Champion”. This is good, but we need to do more! The key is to focus on the root causes of conflicts. This means more concrete actions in addressing the political and economic empowerment of women. I will mention two: Women's equal access to natural resources - such as land - is a basic right that needs to be ensured in order to enable societies to prosper. The other is: sending all girls to school. Since, without educating half the population, societies will not advance.

The most recent UN resolution on Women, Peace and Security includes preventing violent extremism. A very important topic. Our Ministry of Interior leads the way at the national level. I feel strongly about this issue and I wish to do my own share. Therefore, last year I started a campaign in schools – whereby I try to explain, how we could counter violent extremism through foreign and security policy tools. It has been a rewarding experience.

Many of the Finnish strengths are found in crises management. For example, women constitute almost 40 % of the Finnish civilian crisis management experts. But perhaps more important still - is that every Finn sent to international crises management operations receives gender training, before he or she is sent to the field. In addition, the UN Military Experts on Mission Course -organized in Niinisalo -provides practical training in a simulated environment for military experts from dozens of countries. I have been told that this is probably the best course of its kind in the whole world! Last year - for the first time – a course had more than 50 % of the participation by women.

Fighting impunity continues to be a priority for Finland! As we have seen - also lately - we need to have political courage, and take concrete actions in demanding that criminal actions are punished - and thus preventing the strong push to weaken the international rules based order created after the World War two.

Migration is another issue that needs sustainable and long-term solutions. Finland – on her part - aims to address protection, special needs and participation of refugee women and girls. This applies in countries of origin, in refugee camps, in-transit and as asylum seekers.

Women human-rights defenders in conflicts are often in a particularly difficult position. Finland is implementing the EU guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.

Preventing and combating sexual violence in conflict is part of the objectives of the NAP. We will strive for measures that could better integrate this into operational work.

Governments, international and non-governmental organisations must prevent sexual exploitation and abuse. Personnel deployed to conflict areas must know that all cases are investigated and all perpetrators punished.

With the new Action Plan, Finland is among the first to include prevention of violent extremism and migration in the NAP. Mediation is a key foreign policy priority for Finland and for myself. Thus we are putting more emphasis on mediation. Arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation have been elevated to their own outcome area. Following the World Summit in 2016 Finland emphasizes even stronger the need to take into account women's needs and access to humanitarian assistance.

I would like to thank all those who work to promote and implement this agenda. Especially my gratitude goes to those who work in the field. Your tireless and consistent efforts bring this agenda forward.

I would like to thank the Ministries of the Interior, Defense and other ministries, the Defense Forces, CMC Finland, the Finnish Immigration Services Migri for the seamless cooperation in putting together the NAP. Let's continue this for effective implementation.

Huge thanks goes to the civil society organisations. You were instrumental with your knowledge and concrete experience. You are very welcome to join in the implementation of the NAP. We need the whole Finnish society to work for the benefit of women in conflicts.

Before closing let me challenge universities to prepare their own Action Plan to ensure 1325 is integrated into all conflict-related teaching and research in Finland. I believe that this would be a useful next step and innovation.

Lastly I would like to thank UN Women for the excellent work you are doing in advancing the 1325 agenda and the status of women in the world. We know the challenge, and we appreciate you pushing development forward day by day.

The National Action Plan is a political statement for stronger peace and security, and a statement expressing our request to take into account the proven fact that more inclusive processes contribute to more sustainable peace.

I now declare the National Action Plan launched: let the implementation begin!

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Updated 4/13/2018

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