Dr Liisa Kauppinen has been working for the promotion of the rights of the deaf and women with disabilities for a long time.
Liisa Kauppinen, advocator of the rights of the deaf, received the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights in New York on the International Human Rights Day on 10 December. She was the first Finn to earn the honour.
“This was a big surprise. I highly value this award and consider it as recognition to all the deaf people, people using signed languages, women, and people with disabilities in this world, and the Finns as well. I particularly want to acknowledge people living without human rights and those fighting for a better life,” Kauppinen pointed out.
Kauppinen has an extensive international experience of human rights work among the deaf.
She has acted, for example, as Executive Director of the Finnish Association of the Deaf, President of the World Federation of the Deaf, and in various advisory positions in the UN.
Kauppinen has also been working for the promotion of the rights of women, and women with disabilities in particular.
“We still have a lot of work to do for implementation of human rights in all countries. The UN is in the process of drafting new development goals as continuance for the expiring Millennium Development Goals that should cover the rights of the poorest people of the world and the minorities in a more comprehensive manner. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is one the finest human rights conventions. In the spirit of this convention, there is no distinction between people with disabilities and other people, but we are all different people with equal rights," Kauppinen comments.
Greater openness and closer cooperation with the civil society actors are among the most important themes of the Human Rights Strategy of the Foreign Service of Finland.
According to Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, Liisa Kauppinen’s election as recipient of the prize shows how important the civil society’s opportunities to influence are and how significant role it plays in the promotion of human rights.
“Kauppinen’s strong influence in the human rights work has contributed to Finland’s enhanced credibility in the promotion of human rights," Tuomioja rejoices.
Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, explains that in the UN Human Rights Committee Finland is placing particular emphasis on promotion of equality in accordance with the Human Rights Action Plan of the Foreign Service of Finland.
Finland is focusing strongly on implementation of the rights of women, people with disabilities and indigenous people.
The United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights is an honorary award given to individuals and organisations in recognition of outstanding achievement in human rights every five years It was first awarded 40 years ago when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights celebrated its 20th anniversary.
The former prize recipients include Eleanor Roosevelt (1968), Martin Luther King (posthumously in 1978), Nelson Mandela (1988) and Jimmy Carter (1998). This year the prize was awarded to a total of six recipients.