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CoE Human Rights Day in Turku

Council of Europe Human Rights Day in Turku

The very first Council of Europe Human Rights Day in Finland was organised in Turku by the Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi, the City of Turku, the Finnish Association of Municipalities, the Human Rights Centre and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on 4 May 2023. It gathered representatives of cities, municipalities, ministries and civil society as well as researchers and students.

The day formed part of a Europe-wide effort to give more visibility to the application of the human rights standards of the Council of Europe in its member states. The full-day programme included an expert seminar and a research seminar held on Åbo Akademi premises as well as a youth event organised at the Hansa shopping centre. The opening speakers included the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Bjørn Berge and the Mayor of Turku, Minna Arve.

In the research seminar organised by the Institute for Human Rights, Professor Paul Gready (University of York) stressed the need to ensure that the diversity of voices of the inhabitants is heard in local decision-making processes. Professor Markku Suksi (Åbo Akademi) noted that Council of Europe standards require measures for meeting the needs of persons who face particular obstacles in participating. Discussing the participation of persons with disabilities in local decision-making, Dr Elisabeth Hästbacka (city of Vaasa) pointed out remaining barriers to participation, as illustrated by the fact that there has never been a woman with disability in Finnish Parliament. Dr Maija Jäske (Åbo Akademi) discussed the functioning of deliberative mini-publics, which can be used to enhance equality in political decision-making by engaging a diverse group of citizens through random sampling and ensuring equal opportunities to learn, deliberate and form considered opinions.

For further information, please contact Dr Lisa Grans, lisa.grans@abo.fi