International cooperation

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (MSAH) and its administrative sector are engaged in proactive global social welfare and healthcare policy cooperation in the EU and internationally. As part of the Government, MSAH is responsible for international cooperation and commitments in its sector.

MSAH implements the “Globally influential Finland” strategic theme stated in the Programme of Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Government and, in accordance with the Government Programme, promotes the realisation of human rights and gender equality, and the achievement of the Agenda 2030 goals. MSAH also promotes universal social welfare and healthcare policy in its international activities.

The focus of the international activities of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is on influencing international and EU legislation, norms and policy programmes in its administrative sector, and their national implementation, as well as enforcement and reporting activities related to binding international agreements. The horizontal priorities are to promote the economy of wellbeing, gender equality and non-discrimination. Taking Finland’s social policy principles into consideration is enabled through the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Finland is a pioneer in digitalisation concerning health and wellbeing as well as sustainable data policy. MSAH promotes the allocation of funding to Finland under EU programmes.

International cooperation is based on Finland’s EU and international policies, the Government Programme, and the policies of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. 

Cooperation is based on international commitments and processes supporting social sustainability, including conventions and recommendations of the UN, WHO, the Council of Europe and the ILO.

Broad cooperation in various forums

The most significant forums of international cooperation in MSAH’s administrative sector are as follows:

  • European Union (EU)
  • United Nations (UN) and its specialised agencies
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  • Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM)
  • Council of Europe (COE)
  • Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social wellbeing (NDPHS)
  • Other intergovernmental cooperation organisations and regional cooperation bodies, including the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC), the Arctic Council and the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) 
  • Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA)

The Ministry also coordinates neighbouring area cooperation projects in its administrative sector. Preventing the spread of communicable diseases and the prevention of lifestyle illnesses and social exclusion require extensive international cooperation, especially in the neighbouring areas.

It is important for Finland to not only ensure the implementation and social sustainability of international commitments but also to strengthen the national administrative sector of social welfare and healthcare policy and expertise in that area through international and regional cooperation. Promoting gender equality is a particularly important objective for Finland, also in international arenas.

Cooperation is coordinated by the International Affairs Unit

The Ministry’s International Affairs Unit is responsible for the following activities, among others:

  • planning and developing EU and other international affairs within the Ministry’s administrative sector; coordinating these affairs with the Ministry’s other departments and institutions and other ministries
  • coordination of reporting on the implementation of international human rights and other agreements within the Ministry’s administrative sector
  • making preparations for the international visits of Ministers and the Permanent Secretary
  • anticipating developments in EU activities and on the international scene

The Ministry’s departments are responsible for content-related issues in accordance with their division of duties.

Further information

Kaisa Lähdepuro, Senior Specialist 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, International Affairs Unit (KVY) 0295163419