Finland's Success in Combating Covid-19: Mastery, Miracle or Mirage?

Joelle Grogan and Alice Donald (eds) Routledge Handbook on Law and the COVID-19 Pandemic, Routledge, London, Forthcoming

13 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2021

See all articles by Martin Scheinin

Martin Scheinin

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW); University of Oxford - Bonavero Institute of Human Rights

Date Written: August 4, 2021

Abstract

This paper addresses Finland’s relative success story in combating COVID-19. While Finland did not adopt a clear strategy of suppression, its numbers of cases and deaths have been remarkably low in European comparison. There are explanations for why the country’s ‘hybrid’ strategy has worked in curbing the epidemic without far-reaching restrictions upon human rights or a major blow to the economy. Geographical location, low population density and cultural factors of avoiding close proximity with others have mattered, but also societal choices. Finland has a modern comprehensive catalogue of constitutional rights, reflecting the principle of interdependence between all human rights and including a general positive obligations clause. During COVID-19 it sought to give equal attention to civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, equality rights and the rule of law. This interdependence-based approach is a main explanation of why Finland’s response has, by and large, been human-rights-compatible. Finland provides examples of best practice in designing a framework for emergency powers and preserving the role of Parliament. Nevertheless, during COVID-19 the Emergency Powers Act, as well as the Communicable Diseases Act, have proved not fit for purpose and would require thorough revision to prepare for future pandemics.

Note: Funding: None to declare.

Declaration of Interests: None to declare

Keywords: interdependence of human rights, strategy assessment, best practice, emergency powers, parliamentary scrutiny, Finland

JEL Classification: K1, K30, K33

Suggested Citation

Scheinin, Martin, Finland's Success in Combating Covid-19: Mastery, Miracle or Mirage? (August 4, 2021). Joelle Grogan and Alice Donald (eds) Routledge Handbook on Law and the COVID-19 Pandemic, Routledge, London, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3909237 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3909237

Martin Scheinin (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW) ( email )

Via Bolognese 156 (Villa Salviati)
50-139 Firenze
Italy

University of Oxford - Bonavero Institute of Human Rights ( email )

Faculty of Law
c/o Mansfield College, Mansfield Rd
Oxford, OX1 3TF
United Kingdom

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