Kirsi Henriksson, Director of the Crisis Management Centre of Finland (CMC Finland), reviews the past year and the changes taking place at the Centre in 2021.
The last few years have brought a lot of changes to CMC Finland. The two-year transition period of CMC Finland away from under the wings of the Emergency Services Academy Finland is ending. The transition began in 2019 with an administrative shift to the Ministry of the Interior and was followed by a physical move from Kuopio to Pasila in 2020.
The transition has been challenging, but thanks to it CMC is now in a good position to operate effectively. In this regard, ensuring the quality of the services provided to civilian crisis management experts, stakeholders and trainees is of key importance. During the years of change, CMC has not had sufficient resources, but we have now filled all the open positions and we can begin our operations in full scale, naturally within the restrictions posed by COVID-19.
The coronavirus epidemic has caused some challenges at CMC, but we have managed to continue recruiting and training experts. The experts have been selected due to their ability to cope with the challenge brought by COVID-19, as well as other challenges in civilian crisis management operations.
Over the past year, many developments have taken place within civilian crisis management, both in Finland and internationally.
The Act on civilian participation in crisis management is being updated to better meet the needs of human resources administration. At the same time, the aim is to increase transparency in the recruitment and appointment process. The future decree will clearly state, among other things, the eligibility criteria and factors limiting the employment relationship, such as waiting periods.
A Parliamentary Committee for Crisis Management, which was established in line with the Government Programme, met several times in 2020, with the Director of the CMC participating in the meetings as an expert member. The Committee has discussed the effectiveness of civilian crisis management, the current state of Finnish crisis management and the link between internal and external security. The Committee’s policy guidelines will be completed in February 2021.
Positive changes have also taken place in the EU’s civilian crisis management. The Civilian CSDP Compact intends to motivate the Member States to strengthen their national processes on training and deployment of experts.
Finland continues as front runner
The EU is currently facing a problem of supply and demand: Even though there are a lot of competent experts available, they are not being recruited for civilian crisis management missions, which in turn are constantly understaffed.
Only few EU Member States have organisations like CMC Finland, which coordinates civilian crisis management matters nationally and manages the operational details on posting experts in the field. Finland’s expertise and practices have aroused interest in other EU Member States.
CMC Finland also has a long experience in increasing the number of women in the missions. Finland’s objective is that at least 40% of the participants are women, whereas the number of women posted in many other countries remains between 10% and 15%. CMC Finland and Spain have set up a working group to share best practices on how to increase the number of women in the missions and how to change the operational culture. The number of women alone is not decisive; it is important to increase the diversity of staff working in the operations and to improve competence in this way. There is also a need for younger participants.
CMC Finland will again see to it this year that Finnish expertise can be used in civilian crisis management operations around the world to support the democratic development of fragile regions and thereby increase security at home too.
I wish everyone a stable and safe New Year in civilian crisis management!