Merikasarmi, PO Box 176, 00023 Government, Finland
tel: +358 295 350 000
Contact information | How to find the Ministry

Helsinki Process 2002-2008

Erkki Tuomioja and Jakaya Kikwete. Photo: UMErkki Tuomioja and Jakaya Kikwete. Photo: FM

The Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy was a joint initiative of the Finnish and Tanzanian Foreign Ministries. The process brought together actors from all over the world - governments, international organizations, NGOs, private sector, research institutions, religious organizations, as well as representatives of the media - to find ways to better manage globalisation.

The Helsinki Process was grounded on the concept that:

  • different stakeholders play different roles in tackling global problems and in implementing the commitments that have been made
  • these actors do not necessarily have to agree on the details to be able to cooperate - the most important thing is to concentrate on finding common solutions to urgent problems even despite possible disagreement about the underlying factors.
Helsinki-ryhmän tapaaminen Dar es Salaam, 2004Helsinki group met  in Dar es Salaam, 2004. Photo: FM

The idea of ​​launching the process developed as a response to

  • growing global interdependence
  • the need of broad-based cooperation to be able to solve the increasing and new kinds of global problems
  • the emergence of new non-state actors in the post-Cold War world politics.

The name of the process was inspired by the OSCE process of the 1970s - in that case it was important to build bridges between the East and the West, whereas in the early 21st century there was a need for building North-South bridges.

The three key overall goals of the Helsinki Process were to provide a novel, equal platform for actors from the North and the South to engage in constructive dialogue on common concerns; to develop feasible and practical solutions to jointly identified problems; and to mobilize political will and resources with a view to implementing recommendations.

The three key overall goals of the Helsinki Process :

  1.  to provide a novel, equal platform for actors from the North and the South to engage in constructive dialogue on common concerns
  2. to develop feasible and practical solutions to jointly identified problems and
  3. to mobilize political will and resources with a view to implementing recommendations.

Implementation of the Helsinki Process

The idea of the Helsinki Process was to promote dialogue and concrete cooperation between different actors by providing an open and informal forum for multi-stakeholder cooperation. The process comprised:

  • The Helsinki Group
  • Friends of the Helsinki Process, which was convened in 2004 (Algeria, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Hungary, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Thailand and United Kingdom
  • Consultative Network
  • Citizens' Global Platform in Brazil, Finland, India and Tanzania which conveyed the views of civil society in the process.

The process was divided into two phases

Phase I in 2002–2005 consisted of a high-level Helsinki Group and three thematic working groups (new approaches to global problem-solving; a global economic agenda; human security). This initial phase culminated in the Helsinki Conference "Mobilizing Political Will" in September 2005.

Mobilizing Political Will –konferenssi v. 2005. Kuva: UMMobilizing Political Will –conference  in 2005. Photo: FM

The objective of phase II in 2005–2007 was to implement the recommendations of the first phase and the development of the multi-stakeholder cooperation model. The second phase was built on two pillars: Road Maps facilitated by the governments of the Friends of the Helsinki Process and roundtables focusing on the topics of the ‘five baskets’ of the process (peace and security; poverty and development; human rights; governance; and environment).

The Friends of the Helsinki Process of the first phase chose the following Road Maps

  • Finland: anti-corruption
  • Malaysia: effective global governance, and participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making
  • South Africa: gender equality and violence against women
  • Thailand: human trafficking, strengthening international and regional cooperation
  • Mexico: international migration
  • Egypt: information and communications technology, e-health and e-Learning
  • Spain: water and sanitation

The aim of the roundtables was to develop concrete programmes of action, i.e. new Road Maps. Many of the roundtables organized during the second phase resulted in commitments that continued even after the Helsinki Process had ended.

Results of the Helsinki Process

Martin Khor, Irene Khan, Jakaya Kikwete ja Tansanian entinen presidentti Mkapa. Kuva: UMMartin Khor, Irene Khan, Jakaya Kikwete and expresident Mkapa. Photo: FM

A Review Conference of the Helsinki Process was held in Dar es Salaam in November 2007, and the final report was handed over to the UN Secretary-General in September 2008. The report highlights how multi-stakeholder cooperation could be a way forward in situations where official negotiations are in deadlock or where consensus-based decision-making processes fail. The report also recommends areas where multi-stakeholder cooperation could be of particular value (confidence-building, idea generation and innovation, implementation) as well as principles for successful cooperation.

The Helsinki Process also produced six commitments:

  1. Establishing the Dar es Salaam Institute for Sustainable Development  
  2. Mediating Peace in Africa: Securing Conflict Prevention  
  3. Enhanced Civil Society Participation in UN Climate Change Processes
  4. Establishing a Regional Multi-Stakeholder Forum for West Asia - North Africa (WANA)
  5. Forum for dialogue for developing an ethics-based Climate Change Regime
  6. Supporting the Middle East Council for Religious Leaders  

In addition to the concrete actions the process generated political capital for Finland as well as an extensive network of contacts. The Helsinki Process was a success in that it provided an open and inclusive forum for discussion and expression of different points of view.

More on the Helsinki Process:

pdfThe Helsinki Process in a nutshell (pdf 102 Kt)

pdfThe Final Report of the Helsinki Process (pdf 891 Kt)

This document

Content administrator Unit for UN and General Global Affairs

Updated 6/25/2013

Takaisin ylös