1. The Committee
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the fourth periodic
report of Finland on the implementation of the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/C.12/4/Add.1) at its 61st,
62nd and 63rd meetings, held on 15 and 16 November 2000, and adopted,
at its 75th meeting, held on 24 November 2000, the following concluding
2. The Committee
welcomes the submission of the fourth periodic report of Finland,
which has been prepared in general in conformity with the revised
reporting guidelines established by the Committee. The Committee notes
with satisfaction the responses given in the report to its previous
3. The Committee
expresses its appreciation for the readiness of the State party to
advance the date of the consideration of its fourth periodic report,
which is the first fourth periodic report received and considered
by the Committee. The Committee also welcomes the timely submission
of written replies to the list of issues, even at such short notice.
4. The Committee
notes with satisfaction the open, candid and constructive dialogue
with the members of the State party delegation and thanks them for
the additional information provided to the Committee upon returning
to the capital.
5. The Committee
commends the State party on its ratification of the Additional Protocol
to the European Social Charter providing for a system of collective
complaints, and for its support for the draft optional protocol to
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
6. The Committee
welcomes the participation of NGOs in the drafting of the State party's
periodic reports on the implementation of human rights conventions.
7. The Committee
notes with satisfaction the inclusion in the State party's Constitution
of age as a prohibited ground of discrimination.
8. The Committee
notes with appreciation the adoption by the State party of a programme
on the integration of immigrants (April 1999), as well as the proposal
prepared by the Ministry of Labour for a plan of action to prevent
ethnic discrimination and racism. The Committee further welcomes the
proposal for the establishment of an Office of Ombudsman against Ethnic
9. The Committee
welcomes the decrease in unemployment, in general, and the fall in
youth unemployment, in particular in Finland over the reporting period.
10. The Committee
notes with appreciation that at the 159th session of the UNESCO Executive
Board (May 2000) Finland underlined the importance of collaboration
between the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and
UNESCO in the context of follow-up to the Dakar Framework for Action
(April 2000), with a view to achieving the effective realization of
the right to education.
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the
11. The Committee
notes the favourable economic conditions prevailing in Finland and
observes no insurmountable factors or difficulties preventing the
State party from effectively implementing the Covenant.
D. Principal subjects of concern
12. The Committee
is concerned that, while the Covenant may be directly invoked before
the courts of Finland, there is no case law data suggesting that this
has ever happened. In this respect, the Committee is concerned that
lawyers and judges may not be sufficiently aware of the rights enshrined
in the Covenant.
13. The Committee
notes with concern that in 1999 Finland devoted only 0.32 per cent
of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to international cooperation,
while the United Nations recommendation in this regard is 0.7 per
cent of GDP for industrialized countries.
14. The Committee
regrets that, despite the many initiatives taken by the State party
to combat racial discrimination, racist attitudes prevail among the
population, perpetuating discrimination against minorities and foreigners,
especially in employment.
15. The Committee
expresses concern about the practical enjoyment of their labour rights
by the so-called "stand-by" workers who allegedly can be laid off
16. The Committee
reiterates its concern, expressed in paragraph 13 of its previous
concluding observations (E/C.12/1/Add.8), that although collective
agreements in some sectors of professional activity contain provisions
for the determination of minimum wages, no minimum wage is guaranteed
welcoming the several studies and projects concerning violence against
women carried out in the past few years in Finland, the Committee
notes with concern that the phenomenon has reached alarming proportions.
The Committee reiterates its regret at the absence of comparative
statistical information on the extent of the problem, as well as lack
of information on the remedies, rehabilitation and services provided
18. The Committee
notes with concern the lack of affordable accommodation, especially
in the Helsinki metropolitan area, for the homeless, a group consisting
mainly of alcoholics, drug abusers, victims of domestic violence and
the mentally ill.
19. The Committee
regrets the weakening of the public health care system as a result
of cuts in the Government's health spending.
20. The Committee
is particularly concerned that certain municipalities allocate insufficient
funds to health care services. This has resulted in inequality with
regard to levels of health care service provision depending on the
place of residence, to the detriment in particular of children, persons
with physical and mental disabilities and older persons.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
21. The Committee
urges the State party to formulate and implement a national plan of
action for the protection and promotion of human rights, as recommended
in paragraph 71 of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
22. The Committee
encourages the State party to ensure that all judges and lawyers receive
further training provided free of charge to familiarize them with
the provisions of the Covenant and the general comments adopted by
23. The Committee
recommends that the State party review its budget allocation for international
cooperation with a view to increasing its contribution in accordance
with the United Nations recommendation.
24. The Committee
encourages the State party, as a member of international financial
institutions, to do all it can to ensure that the policies and decisions
of those organizations are in conformity with the obligations of States
parties to the Covenant, in particular the obligations contained in
article 2.1 concerning international assistance and cooperation.
25. The Committee
urges the State party to finalize its review of the legislation concerning
the Sami population with a view to ratifying ILO Convention No. 169.
The Committee recommends that the State party settle the question
of Sami land title as a matter of high priority.
26. The Committee
requests the State party to provide information in its fifth periodic
report on the enjoyment by the Roma of their economic, social and
27. The Committee
urges the State party to continue and strengthen its efforts to combat
racism and xenophobia.
28. The Committee
recommends that the State party ensure that legislative provisions
concerning job security are effectively implemented, especially as
regards the most vulnerable groups, such as part-time, "stand-by"
workers and foreigners.
29. The Committee
reiterates the recommendation made in paragraph 20 of its previous
concluding observations (E/C.12/1/Add.8) that the State party provide
for minimum wages at the national level, in order for protection to
be ensured also to workers who are not protected by sectoral collective
30. The Committee
requests the State party to provide comparative statistical data,
in its fifth periodic report, on the extent of violence against women.
The Committee also requests detailed information on the results of
the measures taken by the Government to address the phenomenon, including
on facilities, rehabilitation and remedies accorded to victims.
31. The Committee
further recommends that the State party ensure that adequate resources
are afforded to public health services and that the cost of private
health care remains affordable to all sectors of society.
32. The Committee
calls on the State party to ensure that municipalities provide adequate
health services, especially to vulnerable groups such as children,
older persons and persons with physical and mental disabilities. In
this respect, the Committee requests the State party to provide information,
in its fifth periodic report, on the services available in municipalities
particularly for those in need of mental health care services.
33. The Committee
calls upon the State party to take special care in ensuring the equality
of standards in education for all in accordance with article 13 of
the Covenant and the Committee's General Comments Nos. 11 and 13.
34. The Committee
requests that the State party disseminate these concluding observations
as widely as possible among its citizens.
35. The Committee
requests the State party to address, in its fifth periodic report,
the implementation of these concluding observations.
36. The Committee
requests the State party to submit its fifth periodic report by 30