Welcoming remarks by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the reception for the participants of high level seminar “Shaping the Next Generation of Peace Operations” on 31 May 2012

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Peace and security are at the very heart of the United Nations. The organization was founded, in the famous words of the Charter, in order to save succeeding generations from the scourges of war. The nature of conflicts has changed since those days, as has our understanding of the concept of security. Today’s United Nations is very much based on the idea that peace and security, development and human rights are closely interlinked. Yet, the ability to prevent and end violent conflict remains the most important yardstick with which the success of the United Nations can be judged.


Finland is a strong supporter of the UN, in word and deed. For us, the United Nations is the cornerstone of the global multilateral system and cooperation. It is the highest authority in the system of global security.

Finland has participated in UN peacekeeping from the early days of our UN membership. Finland joined the UN in 1955 and the first Finnish blue helmets were deployed to Suez in 1956. Since then around 50 000 Finnish peacekeepers have participated in 30 UN or UN mandated operations. Finnish generals serving in the first peace-keeping operations of the UN in the 1950’s and 1960 were directly involved in peace negotiations for instance in the Sinai. These experiences have provided inspiration to several generations of Finns both in terms of peacekeeping and mediation.

Today, our participation is motivated by a sense of collective responsibility and duty. It is our strong determination to further increase our contribution to peacekeeping and international crisis management. We are also ready to share our expertise in the area of peacekeeping training.

Currently Finland contributes to UN-led operations in the Middle East, India and Pakistan, and Liberia. In these very days, Finnish peacekeepers, about 180 soldiers, are returning to Lebanon, to the UNIFIL operation. We have also deployed 10 military observers to the supervision mission in Syria (UNSMIS).

As the famous Brahimi report stated, force alone cannot create peace, but only the space in which peace can be built. Long-term success of a peace operation depends on the progress made in assisting national authorities to build up their own institutions. By participating in peace operations, Finland wants to create conditions for recovery and development. That is why Finland has put increased attention to civilian capacities in operations during the past few years. Numerous Finnish civilian experts – police, rule of law experts, gender and human rights advisers – are working together in peace operations around the world.

In the UN, Finland cooperates closely with other Nordic countries: Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. We very much share the same values, the basis for the so called Nordic model. Strong commitment to multilateral solutions is one of them.

UN peacekeeping faces many new challenges, which you will discuss in the course of your High-Level seminar here in Helsinki. These are related to sharing the costs of peacekeeping, to ambitious mandates and the issue of host country consent, inter alia. It is our conviction that countries from both North and South must contribute troops to UN peace operations also in the future.


Finland’s commitment to the United Nations and to the collective security is demonstrated by our candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for the term 2013-2014. We believe that we have much to offer to the international community. As a non-permanent member, we would bring the perspective of a small, capable and engaged member state to the deliberations of the Council.

If elected, we would continue our work on issues we have stressed in the work of the United Nations in a consistent manner. Building on the General Assembly resolution on mediation we initiated together with Turkey, we would advance the role of preventive diplomacy and mediation also in the work of the Security Council. We would aim at enhancing women’s role in conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding, in the spirit of landmark resolution 1325 on Women, peace and security.

We would also work to improve the working methods of the Council and to increase the transparency in its work. Involving troop contributing countries better when mandates are crafted is an essential part of any reform.


It is sometimes beneficial to all of us to get some distance from the daily routines and to conduct discussions in a more informal setting. I hope that white nights of the North will give you lot of inspiration in your important your work for more effective peacekeeping – and for better world. I wish you fruitful discussions and an enjoyable stay in Helsinki.