A child’s benefit must be primarily ensured in legislative activities
Primarily, fundamental and human rights belong to everyone regardless of their age or nationality. The Constitution of Finland includes a provision specifically regarding children. According to the Constitution of Finland, children must be treated equally as individuals and they have the right to influence matters pertaining to themselves to a degree corresponding to their level of development.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is legally binding in Finland. Article 3 of the convention concerns the best interests of children. In accordance with the article, all actions concerning children and undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies must take the best interests of the child under primary consideration. The Act on the reception of persons applying for international protection, the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration and the Aliens Act also require prioritising and assessing the child’s best interests.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has emphasised that assessing the child’s best interests is unconditional, extensive and child specific.
The Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration refers to the Child Welfare Act in relation to assessing the child’s best interests. When assessing a child’s best interests, attention must be given to how different measures and solutions can ensure a child’s balanced development and well-being, close and constant human relations, a safe environment, physical and mental sanctity and the opportunity to participate and influence matters related to themselves, as well as to the acknowledgement of their lingual, cultural and religious background.
Non-discrimination is part of equality
The basis for the requirement of equal treatment is in the Constitution of Finland. In a fair society, everyone has equal opportunities to education, work and different services.
Non-discrimination is an integral part of equality. According to the Non-discrimination Act, no one can be discriminated against based on their age, origin, nationality, language, religion, conviction, opinion, political activity, trade union activity, family, health, disability, sexual orientation or other personal reason.
The authorities, education providers and employers must promote equality in their activities. The Non-Discrimination Act provides concrete tools for the promotion of integration
The Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration requires multi-sectoral cooperation from authorities
Integration is promoted by cooperation between several sectors and operators.
The Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration also requires that the authorities develop multi-sectoral cooperation on promotion of integration. At local level, the municipality (in particular representatives of the administration and basic services), the wellbeing services county, the TE Office and the police as well as organisations, associations, communities and educational institutions organising integration services participate in this cooperation.
A municipality or group of municipalities may establish a local advisory body in cooperation with local labour market, entrepreneur and non-governmental organisations. The advisory body’s task is to plan and develop the implementation of integration promotion and to promote ethnic relations.
The municipality, the wellbeing services county and the TE Office are jointly responsible for organising and monitoring measures and services that promote and support integration and directing people to such services. They may also draw up local or regional cooperation agreements on the organisation of measures and services in their area.