The Finnish participation in civilian crisis management suffered a regrettable blow on 21 March 2021, when we lost a specialist who had been working in the European Union’s civilian crisis management mission in Somalia, employed by the State of Finland. The personnel of CMC Finland is deeply saddened by the loss of the civilian crisis management expert and extends its heartfelt condolences to the expert’s family.
The sad news arrived when several projects were underway that will guide the present and the future of the Finnish participation in civilian crisis management.
The Act on the Participation of Civilian Personnel in Crisis Management
The working group processing an update of the civilian crisis management legislation finalised its work after a process that lasted nearly a year. The Ministry of the Interior is currently compiling a summary of the requested opinions.
The civilian crisis management legislation provides the legal basis and mandate for the tasks carried out by CMC Finland, but the substance of our participation in civilian crisis management is always defined by Finland’s commitments to international organisations such as the EU, the UN, OSCE and NATO. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is responsible for the political guidance of civilian crisis management, and makes the decisions concerning the level of participation and the tasks within operations and secretariats for which Finnish civilian crisis management specialists are nominated. The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for preparedness, development and coordination of the national capabilities for civilian crisis management in Finland.
The annual appropriation granted for civilian crisis management is currently increasing positively, and we are targeting a permanent annual number of 150 experts by 2023. However, the current increasing trend was preceded by several years of financial austerity, and the next few years will show what will happen in the management of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs allocated EUR 16 million of the total appropriation of EUR 18 million for civilian crisis management for CMC Finland’s use in 2021. The appropriation enables covering the salary, pre-departure induction and safety training, health, material and travel expenses of 130 employed specialists. Other training organised by CMC Finland will be covered by an appropriation granted by the Ministry of the Interior and external funding (e.g. from the European Commission).
A comprehensive approach to crisis management makes a comeback
So in what direction is civilian crisis management developing, so that experts who are interested can plan to join it? This theme has been discussed alongside military crisis management for nearly a year in a parliamentary committee for crisis management, of which I am a permanent expert member.
The committee’s report was published on 17 March 2021 (at julkaisut.valtioneuvosto.fi), and the recommendations included in the report have been discussed at a seminar organised by WISE on 22 March, for example. The first reactions to the committee report focused mainly on military crisis management, and civilian crisis management received less interest from the media. I am personally very pleased with the political will extending across parties in the government and in the opposition.
The report is necessary from the perspective of civilian crisis management, because it assesses the comprehensiveness of crisis management, for example, for the first time in a long time. CMC Finland has been cooperating with the Finnish Defence Forces International Centre FINCENT in the framework of the Finnish Centre of Expertise in Comprehensive Crisis Management for nearly 14 years. In the last few years, the Police University College and the Border and Coast Guard Academy have also officially joined the cooperation. In addition to various authorities, the Centre of Expertise collaborates with non-governmental organisations, and the collaboration should be further increased based on the “nexus” approach proposed in the committee report, among other considerations. In the report, the nexus approach refers to strengthening the cooperation, consistency and mutual supplementation of humanitarian aid, development cooperation and peace processes.
Another central element of the committee report is the emphasis on the effectiveness of crisis management. Many specialists working in civilian crisis management duties are part of the international community’s operations in the conflict and post-conflict areas, and measuring effectiveness is challenging, especially at the level of an individual specialist, unless clear objectives for the participation have been set. Of course, international crisis management operators measure and monitor their results compared with the objectives set in the mandate, but more specific targets should be set for the operations to measure effectiveness. For example, the number of trained police officers provides no information concerning actual effectiveness.
Effectiveness should also be measured more strongly from the perspective of the civil society in conflict areas – what the indicator for local ownership is, how the perceptions of security have developed as a result of international community’s actions, etc. So far, for example, the international crisis management community has not succeeded very well in strengthening human security in the Sahel region, which gives a reason for self-evaluation. For its part, the Covid-19 pandemic offers an opportunity for re-evaluation at both the national and international levels.
The gender ratio objective emphasises the overall gender impact assessment
The committee report establishes the annual level of 150 civilian crisis management experts mentioned above, to be achieved by 2023. The target number of women in civilian crisis management duties also follows the UN’s fifty-fifty target gender ratio. Currently, more than 40% of our specialists working in civilian crisis management are already women, and in EU assignments, the share is nearing 50%.
However, the sheer amount is not a sufficient indicator for the implementation of equality in civilian crisis management tasks. Field operations especially have a gender bias in the assignments and problems in the working atmosphere, which decreases the willingness of both women and civilian men to return to civilian crisis management duties after their first secondment.
Finland has formed a working group together with Spain to help both itself and other EU member states in the implementation of the EU’s shared commitment regarding CSDP civilian missions. The commitment entails increasing the number of women in civilian crisis management missions, but the working group also broadly discusses other themes related to equality, such as education, recruitment and the related communication, the culture of harassment and discrimination occurring in the operations, and the non-family policy versus families present in the areas of operations. CMC Finland is leading the working group, which will continue its work until 2023, on behalf of Finland. In addition to Spain, we receive support from the European Centre of Excellence for Civilian Crisis Management in Berlin.
In this time of grief, I wish you a peaceful spring.
Crisis Management Centre Finland