Ulkoministeriö / Utrikesministeriet

MFA: Minister for Foreign Affairs Haavisto to host a Freedom Online Conference at foreign ministerial level

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The 10th anniversary of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) will be celebrated at the end of Finland’s Chairship. On 3 December, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto will host a virtual Conference of foreign ministers representing 34 FOC member governments. The Freedom Online Coalition 10th Anniversary Helsinki Declaration for open and accessible internet and human rights-based digitalisation will be launched at the Conference.

The Freedom Online Coalition promotes the realisation of human rights on the internet. Over the past ten years, the need for this work has increased as the number of internet users has grown enormously. However, there is a wide gap in digital access, and hate speech, censorship and surveillance that restricts citizens’ privacy are increasing. Confrontation between democratic and authoritarian regimes and practices also affects the realisation of human rights on the internet. During Finland’s Chairship in 2021, the organisation has emphasised the importance of an open, accessible and inclusive internet as a means of promoting sustainable development and strengthening democracy around the world, especially in Africa.

“The realisation of human rights in information networks is an important part of the freedom of expression, the right of participation and privacy protection. The internet should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their background and gender. In the 2020s, the role of defenders of these values, such as the Freedom Online Coalition, is more significant than ever before,” Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto says.   

The Ministerial Meeting, organised by Finland, will be attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Nordic ministers of foreign affairs, and foreign ministers from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. The opening address will be delivered by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who founded the FOC together with Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal

Finland has been responsible for the preparation of the Freedom Online Coalition 10th Anniversary Helsinki Declaration, which is the FOC countries’ joint statement on the promotion of human rights-based digitalisation and an open and accessible internet, to be published at the Conference. At the meeting, Finland will hand over the FOC Chairship to Canada. Canada’s Chairship will begin on 1 January 2022.

Strengthening the human rights-based approach in the development of new technologies and in the promotion of digitalisation is strongly part of Finland’s foreign and security policy. It is also one of the priorities during Finland’s membership of the UN Human Rights Council, which will start in January 2022.

Follow the Ministerial Meeting on the website of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or website of the FOC

Inquiries:

Rauno Merisaari, Ambassador, Unit for Human Rights Policy, tel. + 358 295 350 974
Janette Sorsimo-Kimmo, Project Assistant, Unit for Human Rights Policy, tel. +358 29 535 0586
The Foreign Ministry’s email addresses are in the format firstname.lastname@formin.fi.

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