Government proposal on Finland’s accession to NATO SOFA and Paris Protocol sent out for comments
A draft government proposal, prepared by a working group led by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, was sent out for comments on 12 October 2023.
The proposal concerns Finland’s accession to the Agreement between the Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty regarding the Status of their Forces (NATO SOFA) and to the Protocol on the Status of International Military Headquarters set up pursuant to the North Atlantic Treaty (Paris Protocol). Finland has already applied these agreements as a NATO Partnership for Peace nation and will now accede to them as a NATO member. Finland’s accession to the agreements must be accepted by Parliament.
In the draft government proposal, the working group assessed provisions of the NATO SOFA on such matters as entry formalities, right to carry arms, exercise of jurisdiction, right to compensation, waiver of liability in some cases, and privileges and immunities of troops. Under the Paris Protocol, the NATO SOFA provisions would also apply to NATO’s international military headquarters and their military and civilian personnel as adjusted in the protocol.
The working group examined how the NATO SOFA and the Paris Protocol relate to the Constitution of Finland and to Finland’s international human rights commitments, especially with regard to a foreign power’s right to exercise jurisdiction in the territory of Finland.
The working group concluded that Article VII of the NATO SOFA on the right to exercise criminal and disciplinary jurisdiction contains provisions that are in conflict with Finland’s Constitution. This means that Parliament must make its decision concerning the acceptance of the agreement by at least two thirds of the votes cast. The group further concluded that the NATO SOFA provisions that have relevance for the Constitution have relevance for the Constitution also as provisions of the Paris Protocol.
In addition, the working group examined how the NATO SOFA and the Paris Protocol affect different Finnish bodies and sectors, such as the Finnish Defence Forces, security, judicial system, compensation for damages, taxation, healthcare and transport.
The draft government proposal includes amendments to a number of related acts of different administrative branches that the working group deemed necessary or relevant for Finland’s accession to the two agreements. In addition, a number of sector-specific legislative projects are under way to streamline the implementation of the NATO SOFA and the Paris Protocol and other membership obligations.
The working group drafting the government proposal had representatives from the following: Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Ministry of the Environment, Defence Command Finland, Finnish Border Guard, and State Treasury.
Comments on the draft government proposal may be submitted at Lausuntopalvelu.fi (in Finnish) until 12 November 2023.
- Ministry for Foreign Affairs: Maria Guseff, Director, tel. +358 295 351 158, [email protected]
- Ministry of Defence: Hanna Nordström, Director of Legal Affairs, tel. +358 295 140 600, [email protected]
- Ministry of Justice: Lauri Koskentausta, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 150 241, [email protected]