In terms of crisis management, Finland’s comprehensive approach has constituted a narrative and a policy objective, which has led to a need to clarify mechanisms of decision-making and coordination. The key actors here are the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA), the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Finance, and the Defence Forces. As the president of the republic and the prime minister are key actors at the highest level of decision-making, their offices are included in the coordination. Coordination takes place at various levels in both formal and informal formats. The relatively small size of the general administration, personal links, efficacy and impact requirements, budgetary constraints, and a long tradition of cross-sectoral collaboration in matters related to national security and defence have been seen to constitute a relatively fertile environment for WGA approaches to develop in Finland.
Given the broadening scope of the Finnish comprehensive approach to external conflicts and crises, intra-ministry collaboration has also been highlighted. The MFA, for instance, is responsible for, inter alia, foreign and security policy, development policy and external economic relations, all of which are key policy fields of Finland’s comprehensive approach.
In general, the functioning logic (and governance structures) of the ministries are increasingly geared towards internal coordination and cooperation among departments and units. This does not mean that there are not any of the kinds of significant ‘silos’ or ‘bureaucratic power struggles’ that tend to negatively impact collaboration and joint policy planning. Yet there seems to be a clear understanding that having swift, effective responses to external crises and conflicts requires a joint effort both within and among ministries and agencies. Moreover, there is a willingness to work around difficulties related to institutional boundaries within and among ministries when rapid responses are needed in different crisis scenarios. Indeed, there is more and more discussion of efficacy and impact, which also underlines coordination and cooperation within and among ministries (also in terms of budgetary restrictions).
In terms of the broader context of the Finnish political system, the role of the parliament in promoting a comprehensive approach is interesting. Furthermore, the role and inclusion of civil society actors should be noted.
To discuss the parliament first, one can note that it has played an active role in Finnish foreign and security policy debates in the post- Cold War context. In the 1990s and 2000s, Finland’s participation in EU- and NATO-led crisis-management operations sparked a lively political debate related to changes to legislation on crisis management (Raunio 2018). The parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has been very active in the policy discussion on comprehensive crisis management, and debates on Finland’s engagement have spilled over into the plenary sessions, as well.
One can say that the civilian component of crisis-management – and its emphasis on pursuing a comprehensive approach – have constituted an important part of these debates and contributed to consensus-building among political parties. What’s more, civilian crisis management and the comprehensive approach have also opened up new possibilities for Finland to engage in international operations by other-than-military means.
Against this background, it is noteworthy that the 2009 strategy on comprehensive crisis management (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland 2009) was initiated by the parliament, and that its implementation has been scrutinised by it. Besides legislative powers, parliament also holds the budgetary powers, which further highlights its role.
Turning to civil society actors, the 2009 crisis management strategy also calls for their active involvement in the comprehensive approach. Collaboration with these actors largely takes place within formal collaboration platforms. For example, the Advisory Board on Civilian Crisis Management within the Ministry of the Interior acts as a forum for debate among different administrative branches and civil society, and it aims to contribute to the development of domestic capacity-building (Prime Minister’s Office 2014).
Another relevant body for civil society engagement is the government-appointed Development Policy Committee, which has a mandate to monitor and evaluate Finland’s development policy. Its members include representatives of parliamentary parties, advocacy organisations, NGOs and universities. A comprehensive approach and policy coherence are constant themes in the committee’s meetings. The same holds true for the 20- to 40-member strong Human Rights Delegation appointed by the national Human Rights Centre, which operates under the parliament as the national human rights institution.
Regarding peace-mediation efforts, the work of the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) should be mentioned. It is an independent Finnish organisation that works to prevent and resolve violent conflicts through informal dialogue and mediation. Martti Ahtisaari, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former president of Finland, founded the CMI in 2000. Several other major national NGOs, such as the Finnish Red Cross and Finn Church Aid, are also seen as being important partners for the successful planning and implementation of the country’s comprehensive approach.