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Government proposal on Finland’s accession to NATO SOFA and Paris Protocol submitted to Parliament – Ministry for Foreign Affairs

The Government proposes that Parliament accept the Agreement between the Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty regarding the Status of their Forces (NATO SOFA). The agreement concerns the legal status of the forces of a NATO member country when they are in the territory of another NATO member country in connection with their official duties. 

The government proposal includes bills for the acts bringing into force the two treaties and for related individual amendments to certain national acts. 
The government proposal assesses the provisions of the NATO SOFA and the Paris Protocol on such matters as entry formalities, right to carry arms, division of jurisdiction, right to compensation, waiver of the right in some cases, and privileges and immunities of forces. 
The proposal includes an exchange of notes with the United States, confirming the Parties’ common understanding that in their interpretation and application of the NATO SOFA the Parties will respect the laws, regulations and international legal obligations of both countries. 
Finland will accede to the NATO SOFA and the Paris Protocol by depositing its instruments of accession with the Government of the United States, the depositary. Finland’s accession will enter into force 30 days after of the date of deposit of the instruments of accession.
 
The Government also proposes that Parliament accept the Protocol on the Status of International Military Headquarters set up pursuant to the North Atlantic Treaty (Paris Protocol). The Paris Protocol extends the provisions of the NATO SOFA to Allied headquarters in the territory of a NATO member country and to their military and civilian personnel. 
The Finnish Government submitted a proposal on Finland’s accession to NATO SOFA and the Paris Protocol to Parliament on 30 November. In addition to the acts bringing into force the treaties, the proposal contains amendments to nine related acts. The Government’s assessment is that acceptance by Parliament will require a two-thirds majority decision.

The proposal examines the most important effects of Finland’s accession to the treaties and especially the effects on fundamental and human rights in situations where Finland sends or receives forces. It also explains the key principles of the treaties, which are reciprocity, consent of the Parties and respect for the laws and regulations of the receiving state.
According to the proposal, Article VII of the NATO SOFA on the right to exercise criminal and disciplinary jurisdiction and on the jurisdiction of the authorities of the sending state contains provisions that have relevance for Finland’s Constitution. This means that Parliament must make its decision concerning the acceptance of the treaties by at least two thirds of the votes cast. 
On acceding to NATO on 4 April 2023, Finland committed to approving these treaties within one year of the date of accession. As a NATO partner for peace, Finland has already applied the NATO SOFA and the Paris Protocol to a smaller extent. 

Inquiries

  • Ministry for Foreign Affairs 
    Kaija Suvanto, Director General of Legal Service, tel. +358 295 351 159
    Maria Guseff, Director, tel. +358 295 351 158
  • Ministry of Defence
    Hanna Nordström, Director of Legal Affairs, tel. +358 295 140 600
  • Ministry of Justice
    Lauri Koskentausta, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 150 241
  • Email addresses are in the format: firstname.lastname@gov.fi
  • Link to the Government proposal on the Government website(Link to another website.) (in Finnish and Swedish)

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