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Publication of OECD’s Civic Space Scan of Finland on 16 June 2021
OECD presents wide range of recommendations for improving the enabling environment for civil society in Finland

Ministry of FinanceMinistry of Justice
16.6.2021 13.03
Press release

The Civic Space Scan of Finland by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and De-velopment (OECD) focuses on legislation, practices, civic freedoms and rights, the media operating environment, changes brought by digital technologies and services, the operating environment for civil society organisations (CSOs), and participation by citizens and CSOs. The report provides information and recommendations that will help to protect and promote the enabling environment for civil society in Finland. Finland is the first OECD member country for which an OECD Civic Space Scan has been undertaken.  

Finland has repeatedly performed well in comparisons published by international organisations concerning democracy, human rights, press freedom, corruption and governance. Finland also has various programmes and initiatives in progress that support civil society, such as the National Democracy Programme 2025, the National Action Plan on Fundamental and Human Rights, and the Open Government Action Plan. 

The OECD emphasises that although by international comparison Finland serves as a model enabler of civic space, it is very important that Finland should also recognise and resolve challenges that emerge. Only in this way will it be possible to maintain the favourable situation. 

The OECD's final report was published today, 16 June, in an online event opened by Minister of Local Government Sirpa Paatero.

“Civil society has been one of Finland’s strengths, and this report will help us identify areas for improvement to ensure that it continues to be so. Government is expected to be ever more transparent and ready to engage, with civil society, too. Preserving trust also means we need to make sure everyone is included and focus attention on shortcomings in society,” says Minister Paatero.

”Congratulations to Finland as the first OECD country to undergo a Civic Space Scan! Its recommendations will help Finland to strengthen its remarkable commitment to promote and protect civic space and citizens' engagement,” says Elsa Pilichowski, Director for Public Governance at the OECD.

“With this assessment, Finland can play the role of advocate and serve as an example of how important the matter is internationally, too,” says Katju Holkeri, Senior Ministerial Adviser at the Ministry of Finance.

“A free and vibrant civil society is at the heart of a functioning democracy. Absolutely essential in this are the rule of law and the implementation of fundamental and human rights that are equal. It is important that the OECD's recommendations for Finland be discussed comprehensively, both within the working group to be set up and openly among citizens and stakeholders,” says Johanna Suurpää, Director General at the Ministry of Justice. 

Next steps

The OECD recommendations will be examined closely in a cross-government working group. The working group will determine which of the recommendations can be pursued in existing programmes or projects and which require further work or additional studies.

The Civic Space Scan was commissioned by the Ministry of Finance and carried out by the OECD’s Directorate for Public Governance. In undertaking the assessment, the OECD interviewed in Finland representatives of CSOs, researchers, media and business representatives, and representatives of Finnish public institutions and government. The assessment also included open consultation with CSOs in summer 2020 and a citizens’ panel arranged in February 2021. The OECD used the citizens’ panel to examine people’s views and pro-posals on protecting freedom of expression in Finland. The panel was commissioned by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice and run by Åbo Akademi University’s Social Science Research Institute (Samforsk).

OECD Civic Space Scan and recommendations for Finland:  
Link to OECD report 

Inquiries:

Ministry of Finance
Katju Holkeri, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 530 087, katju.holkeri(at)vm.fi
Johanna Nurmi, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2955 30171 johanna.nurmi(at)vm.fi

Ministry of Justice
Johanna Suurpää, Director General, tel. +358 295 150 534, johanna.suurpaa(at)om.fi 
Niklas Wilhelmsson, Head of Unit, tel. +358 295 150 348, niklas.wilhelmsson(at)om.fi 
 
Related links 
 
National Democracy Programme 2025 
National Action Plan on Fundamental and Human Rights 
Open Government Action Plan 

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