The Ministry of Justice aims to promote a stable rule of law in Finland and especially in its neighbouring areas. International cooperation seeks to reinforce cross-border legal protection, and it also brings new angles to the reform work carried out in Finland.
In the Council of Europe, the Ministry of Justice participates in the development of pan-European rule of law for the purpose of promoting democracy and human rights. Among the most important cooperation forums in the international activities of the Ministry of Justice are also the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the OECD, and the UN. The Ministry’s public officials participate in the work of various committees and working groups of these international organisations.
The legal basis for Nordic cooperation is the so-called Helsinki Treaty, concluded in 1962, which also defines principles for judicial cooperation. The Nordic ministers of justice convene annually, in addition to which ministers from the Nordic countries meet with ministers from the Baltic States every two years.
The Ministry of Justice has agreed on bilateral cooperation programmes with the judicial authorities of Russia, Ukraine and China.
Bilateral cooperation carried out by the Ministry of Justice aims to promote stability in the areas neighbouring Finland and the EU and to support the international rule of law development. The Ministry of Justice has agreed on bilateral cooperation programmes with the judicial authorities of Ukraine and China. In addition, the Ministry of Justice provides expert assistance to other judicial experts in foreign states and participates in bilateral conferences and seminars.
Relations with Russia
Due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Ministry of Justice has limited the scope of its bilateral cooperation with Russia to matters necessary for the legal protection of citizens.
Promoting judicial reforms in Ukraine
The Ministry of Justice emphasises the importance of judicial reforms in the EU's Eastern Partnership countries, which lay down the foundation for the stability, democracy and good governance of societies. In 2005, the Ministry of Justice concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice. To promote the rule of law development in Ukraine, expert meetings concerning different areas of the judicial sector are organised and information on legislation is exchanged.
Supporting the rule of law development in China
According to Finland’s Governmental Action Plan on China 2021, Finland supports the development of the rule of law in China and the building of its legal system. Since the mid-1990s, Finland has contributed to the structural reforms of China’s judicial system, including the improvement of access to judicial services, legal aid and the introduction of alternative criminal sanctions. The aim of judicial cooperation is to influence Chinese legal thinking, Chinese legislation and the functioning of the legal system, as well as the legal and ethical choices made in China. The cooperation provided a channel for promoting Finland’s core principles in China. The cooperation provided a practical opportunity to discuss topical issues in China in a solution-oriented manner at different levels of administration. The cooperation ended in its current form in May 2021.
Addressing rule of law issues in certain African countries
The Government adopted Finland’s Africa Strategy (in Finnish) on 8 March 2021.
The aim of the Strategy is to diversify and deepen Finland’s relations with African countries, with a particular focus on the political and economic relations. One of the objectives is to promote the multilateral, rules-based international order. To implement the Strategy, the Ministry of Justice has drawn up its own Africa Action Plan. One of the objectives of the Action Plan include encouraging African countries to become members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and promoting their accession to the HCCH Conventions in the field of civil and family law. The Ministry of Justice has already launched cooperation (in Finnish) with the HCCH and three African countries: South Africa, Namibia and Tanzania. We have also increased our political-level communication and contacts with public officials in African countries. In this communication, we will keep highlighting questions related to democracy, human rights, equality and the rule of law and promoting the Sustainable Development Goals.