Ulkoministeriö / Utrikesministeriet

MFA: Finland proposes an EU agenda for action on business and human rights

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At the end of the Conference on Business and Human Rights, held by Finland in Brussels on 2 December, Minister of Labour Timo Harakka and State Secretary Johanna Sumuvuori published an Agenda for Action for the EU.

“Interest in greater corporate social responsibility is growing among citizens, organisations, policy-makers and businesses. The EU, too, needs a more coherent and strategic direction. That is why we propose an EU agenda for action on business and human rights,” said Minister Timo Harakka in his closing address.

Professor John Ruggie, the keynote speaker at the event, expressed his view that binding regulation is a key way to promote the UN's Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the goals of sustainable development.

“Promoting corporate social responsibility is a matter of respect for human rights and their defenders, and we have a lot to do in the EU in this field,” said State Secretary Johanna Sumuvuori.

The Agenda for Action, drawn up by Finland, presents more than 20 proposals for measures that could be included in an EU Agenda for Action on Business and Human Rights. The topics covered in the proposals are related to, for example, public funding, development of legislation and judicial remedies, the effects of the sustainable development chapters in free trade agreements, and strengthening cooperation conducted in developing countries.

The conference was organised by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs as part of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union and its aim was to raise business and human rights issues higher on the EU agenda. The conference was attended by more than 200 people, representing business, civil society organisations, labour market organisations, EU Member States, EU institutions and international organisations.

Outcome Paper: Agenda for Action on Business and Human Rights

Inquiries:

Jenni Karjalainen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 40 751 5496, Linda Piirto, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 028, firstname.lastname@tem.fi, Alva Bruun, Senior Adviser on Development Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 295 350 112, firstname.lastname@formin.fi and Kent Wilska, Commercial Counsellor, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 295 351 522, firstname.lastname@formin.fi

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