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In Finland, humanitarian assistance is widely seen as a very important form of aid and thus has strong support with the public.

Education, Health, Water & sanitation
Youth, children, women
ca. € 88 Mio. (2013)

Scope of involvement


Finnish Humanitarian Action, as promoted by the Finnish government, is supposed to reach those most in need, the main emphasis is thus on the least developed countries, and the poorest and most vulnerable people living there.


Types of stakeholders

NGO in general

Finnish NGOs are permanent partners in the provision of Humanitarian Action. The main NGOs focusing on humanitarian action are: FinnChurchAid/Act Alliance (faith-based); Finnish Red Cross; Plan International Finland Foundation; Save the Children Finland; SOS children's village; UNICEF Finnish national committee; UFF (Help for developing countries from people to people in Finland); World Vision Finland (faith-based). Most organisations are members of KEPA (Development cooperation service centre Finland).

Faith-based organisations

Historically, faith-based organisations have played a very important role in providing and developing Humanitarian Action. It is thus not surprising that in 2013, FinnChurchAid is the only Finnish NGO that received funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' budget specifically dedicated to humanitarian aid.

State humanitarianism

Ministries and state agencies involved

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland is the main funding body, the state annually allocates resources for the implementation of development and humanitarian cooperation. It does not, however, undertake field operations itself. There is therefore no ministry of humanitarian action, but it is managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself.

Principles and accountability

All issues are seen in the light of the endorsed Principles of Good Humanitarian Donorship.

Specific roles of international organisations

United Nations

The bulk of funding by the Finnish state for Humanitarian Action is based on core-funding for the main relevant UN bodies.

In addition, the World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) of the United Nations University is situated in Helsinki and provides education and research that might also be relevant for humanitarian action.


Specific focus

Linking Relief Rehabilitation Development

Finnish Humanitarianism is built on the concept of ‘overall continuity’. Actions should follow through from emergency relief to reconstruction and development and should link short-term and long-term action.

Civil Protection

There is a strong link in Finland between civilian crisis management and humanitarian action initiatives. Both work towards the same end, even though they are separately funded and administered. There seems to be considerable potential for cooperation and sharing expertise across the intersection of crisis management and Humanitarian Action.

Specific expertise

The country has important expertise in the field of mines and unexploded devices.


Humanitarian Education

Higher education

There is no specific higher education program for Humanitarian Action in Finland; the studies that come closest to Humanitarian issues are found in development studies.

The research and teaching institution “Finnish University Partnership for International Development (UniPID)” together with development studies at several Finnish Universities (Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Turku) seem to come closest in teaching issues relevant to Humanitarian Action.

In-house training

NGOs provide relevant in-house courses and trainings (e.g. Red Cross, Development cooperation service centre KEPA, Civil Society Conflict Prevention Network KATU). Thus, trainings and professional experiences in the relevant institutions are how skills and competencies are acquired.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland (2013), Humanitarian Aid Year 2013 by Country, Helsinki, Available: http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?nodeid=15344&contentlan=2&culture=en-US [7 May 2014]

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland (2012), Finland's Humanitarian Policy, Helsinki, Available: http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?contentid=101288 [7 May 2014]

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland (2007) Humanitarian Assistance Guidelines. Finland's National Plan for Implementing the Good Humanitarian Donorship Principle, Helsinki, Available: http://www.goodhumanitariandonorship.org/Libraries/Members_Documents_Public_Website/Humanitarian_Assistance_Guidelines_-_Finlands_national_plan_for_implementing_good_humanitarian_donorship_principles.sflb.ashx [7 May 2014]

Telford, J. et al. (2005), The Evaluation of Finnish Humanitarian Assistance 1996-2004. Final Report, Helsinki, Available: http://www.oecd.org/derec/finland/37220875.pdf [7 May 2014]


Prof. Juha Räikkä and MA Daniel Weyermann
University of Turku

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