Finland – a state governed by the rule of law

Finnish democracy is built on the rule of law. The rule of law and respect for fundamental rights are key principles enshrined in the Constitution of Finland. Finland is also committed to these principles as a Member State of the European Union and under its obligations deriving from international treaties. 

Rule of law work consists of activities carried out to promote the realisation of the rule of law both in Finland and as part of Finland’s international and EU cooperation. Promoting the rule of law plays an important role in the Government Programme and in the strategy of the Ministry of Justice. 

What does it mean to be a state governed by the rule of law?

Being a state governed by the rule of law means that all public authorities act within the limits set by law, respect democracy and fundamental rights, and are subject to the supervision of the independent and impartial courts of law. In Finland, the rule of law can also be seen in the fact that the drafting, enactment and implementation of legislation are fair, effective and compliant with the principles of open and good governance. 

In a state governed by the rule of law, everyone has access to public services, corruption and abuse of public power are prevented, and people trust the authorities. In a state governed by the rule of law, individuals have not only rights but also responsibilities towards each other and society.

Ministry of Justice is the ministry for the rule of law and democracy

The Ministry of Justice maintains and develops the legal order and legal protection and oversees the structures of democracy and the fundamental rights of citizens.

As defined in the Ministry of Justice’s strategy, the Ministry’s main responsibility is to ensure the operation of the rule of law in Finland. The Ministry of Justice:

  • promotes democracy and respect for fundamental rights
  • promotes the implementation of legal protection and the enforcement of criminal liability
  • guarantees a favourable operating environment for actors and agencies in its administrative branch
  • drafts legislation for its field of activity
  • develops law drafting within the government.

A sustainable state governed by the rule of law also forms the foundation for sustainable development. The Ministry of Justice’s Vision for Sustainable Development for 2030 (in Finnish) is ‘a democratic state governed by the rule of law, with respect for fundamental and human rights and sustainable judicial administration’. 

The Ministry of Justice is committed to promoting international and EU cooperation for the implementation of the rule of law. This work is guided by the Ministry of Justice’s Strategy for International and EU Activities and the Action Plan for the 2019–2023 Parliamentary Term. The Ministry of Justice supports the strengthening of the EU’s rule of law instruments and the favourable development of the rule of law, especially in the areas neighbouring Finland and the EU. The Ministry’s international and EU activities focus on promoting fundamental rights and democracy in order to strengthen the shared values. The Ministry of Justice also invests in multilateral international cooperation and judicial cooperation in the EU. 

This is how we strengthen the rule of law

Contact information

Marina Venäläinen, Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of Justice, Management Support and Core Services, EU and International Affairs cooperation with Russia  international cooperation, general issues  0295150236