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Human rights

Human rights are internationally agreed basic standards aimed at securing dignity and equality for all: they are universal, indivisible and inalienable.

Human rights are defined in a series of UN conventions and agreements, including the International Bill of Human Rights which consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted in 1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, 1966) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR, 1966); and international human rights conventions such as the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and for example the Convention on the rights of the Child (1989).

Finnfund holds human rights in high regard and conducts its business with respect for, and a view to promote internationally recognized human rights.

Respecting and promoting human rights are at the very core of Finnfund’s work as a development financier and responsible impact investor. Responsible companies can have a direct or indirect positive impact on human rights, such as on decent work, gender equality, freedom of association, through their own operations; as an employer, a corporate citizen and as a neighbor for local communities. As a development financier Finnfund is committed to encourage and strengthen this positive impact.

The nature and complexity of the financed activities in challenging geographies, imply that while there is great potential for positive impact, there is also a potential for adverse human rights risks and impacts that can be severe.

Finnfund endeavours to actively and continuously identify, avoid, mitigate and manage potential and actual adverse human right impacts related to its transactions, and take actions to address them using the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) as a practical framework.

Human Rights Statement

The use of the IFC Performance Standards (IFC PS) and the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work as the reference framework for Finnfund’s environmental and social management means that assessments of Human rights impacts of investments have been carried out to a certain extent for more than 10 years.

To strengthen and further develop its approach to human rights management, Finnfund has adopted its human rights statement, which is an integral part of Finnfund’s Environmental and Social Policy.

Finnfund uses the UNGPs as the framework for the management of human rights impacts and has embedded a human right perspective into its management and investment process including environmental and social risk management, as illustrated by the figure below.

Discussions and consultations of stakeholders and experts have played a key role in the preparation of the human rights statement.

This statement is effective from 1 January 2019 and applies to investments approved thereafter, and where applicable, to investments already in Finnfund’s portfolio.

Finnfund’s human rights statement can be accessed from the link below.

Finnfund’s Human Rights Statement 23.1.2019 (pdf)

External review of the Human Rights Statement

Two years after adopting the Human rights statement, it was time to review the statement and its implementation. The review, finalised at the end of 2021, was conducted by Pillar Two, a Australian-based business and human rights advisory firm. The review consisted of:  

  • a benchmarking exercise based on public documents   
  • and a gap analysis based on internal documents and interviews with seven internal stakeholders and six external stakeholder organisations. 

Read more about the review and the results “Among the best-performing organisations”– external review of Finnfund’s Human Rights Statement and its implementation is ready – Finnfund

A summary of the review is available here Finnfund human rights review – summary by Pillar Two (pdf)

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How do we implement these principles? More details on how our human rights management system works in practice in this article.