Promoting the rights of children
The Ombudsman for Children’s role is to ensure that the status and rights of children are upheld by legislators and society’s decision-makers. The Ombudsman evaluates how well children’s rights are protected in Finland and promotes for improvements.
The Ombudsman for Children represents children’s interests in public debates and decision-making processes. The Ombudsman for Children works together with other agents to build a good and just society for children. The Ombudsman’s role is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (International Treaty No 59-60/1991).
The Ombudsman for Children is an independent and impartial central government authority whose mandate is based on the Act on the Ombudsman for Children (1221/2004). The Ombudsman is placed in the administrative sector of the Ministry of Justice. The Office of the Ombudsman for Children employs a number of experts who help the Ombudsman to promote the rights of children.
The law gives the Ombudsman for Children the following responsibilities:
- Ensuring the well-being of children and young people and protecting their rights
- Promoting the interests of children
- Consulting children and young people and communicating their views to the decision-makers
- Disseminating information about children’s rights to government authorities and organisations that deal with children as well as to the general public
- Encouraging cooperation between the parties involved in the execution of policies concerning children
- Promoting compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
The Ombudsman for Children has a duty to protect the interests and rights of children across society. The Ombudsman does not have authority over the affairs of individual children or families. The Ombudsman cannot comment or overturn other authorities’ decisions. However, the Ombudsman can encourage public debate about specific phenomena and alert decision-makers to issues that are important from the perspective of children’s rights that might otherwise not get the attention they deserve. In Finland, ultimate responsibility for protecting the rights of children falls on the Parliamentary Ombudsman. The Parliamentary Ombudsman oversees the legality of actions taken by the authorities, primarily by investigating complaints. Children and young people can also complain to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, and instructions for lodging complaints can be found here.
The Ombudsman for Children exercises his or her influence, for example, by making proposals, issuing statements and contributing to public debate. The Ombudsman reviews the central government’s plans from the viewpoint of children’s rights and lobbies for reforms.
The Ombudsman for Children builds bridges between interested parties by hosting networking events, panel discussions and other kinds of get-togethers. The Ombudsman works in close cooperation with other public authorities, local governments, regional councils, researchers, non-governmental organisations, religious groups, businesses, other parties involved in the execution of policies concerning children and a range of children’s rights experts.
The Ombudsman for Children is supported by a Child Advisory Board, which consists of representatives of various interest groups.
Much of the Ombudsman for Children’s agenda is based on the experiences and views of children that come to the attention of the Office of the Ombudsman for Children through, for example, consultations and national surveys.
The Ombudsman for Children reports on the welfare and status of children and young people to the Finnish Government once a year and to the Parliament of Finland once every four years. The Ombudsman’s annual report includes an overview of the Ombudsman’s work during the year, the status of the rights of children, progress made in respect of the welfare of children and any legislative issues that have come to the Ombudsman’s attention. The Ombudsman for Children also reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in connection with the Finnish Government’s periodic reviews.
The Ombudsman for Children publishes a wide range of reports and opinions. The Ombudsman also visits organisations that work with children and young people and meets with agents that are interested in promoting the rights of children.
The Office of the Ombudsman for Children is in the progress of drafting its strategy for the years 2019 to 2024.
For more information, see the Ombudsman for Children’s 2019 action plan (PDF).