Press Release: KIOS Funding for Human Rights Work Decreases over 40 %
The Government of Finland cuts the development cooperation funds received by KIOS with 41% in the beginning of 2016. As majority of KIOS’ funding is channeled to human rights organizations in East Africa and South Asia, the support for these organizations is going to be cut accordingly. The board of KIOS has decided on severe adjustments, which will affect the human rights projects in Africa and Asia, as well as the KIOS office in Finland.
The chairperson of the KIOS Board, Henna Hakkarainen, is afraid that the budgetary cut in human rights funding sends a contradictory message to countries that violate human rights: “There is a risk that states interpret Finland’s budgetary cuts as meaning that Finland no more cares about human rights.”
”The situation is very contradictory, as Finland has in various official statements emphasized the role of civil society in advancing human rights. For example in March, the Finnish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, when commenting on the Government of Finland Human Rights Report, held important that Finland actively supports those individuals, who work to promote human rights, even in difficult circumstances at the risk of their own lives,” says the executive director of KIOS, Ulla Anttila.
“It is difficult for our partners to understand, why the official Finland emphasizes the human rights work of the civil society, but at the same time cuts its funding drastically,”
It is exactly the human rights work of the civil societies that the Finnish Foreign Affairs Committee values that KIOS has supported and made known. KIOS is put in a difficult role between the Finnish Government and its partners. “It is difficult for our partners to understand, why the official Finland emphasizes the human rights work of the civil society, but at the same time cuts its funding drastically,” Anttila adds.
“Due to the unreasonable budgetary cut, KIOS is forced to decrease its focus countries, which receive majority of the funding, from ten to six. During the years 2016-2020 the support will be channeled in East Africa to Kenya, Ruanda and Uganda, and in South Asia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and to Tibetan refugee civil society organizations. Support is continued within projects that are regarded as exceptionally important also in Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia and Pakistan, as much as resources allow us,” Henna Hakkarainen adds.
In 2016, KIOS might be able to start only five new projects, as many on-going projects continue until 2016 and 2017. In comparison, in 2014 KIOS started supporting 33 new projects. The KIOS Board has also decided that in 2016, an open call for projects proposals for new partners will not be arranged. Despite this measure, new projects with some of KIOS’ current partners cannot be started either. The lack of sustainability that this budgetary cut creates, is severely affecting the effectiveness of the human rights work.
The staff of KIOS is to be decreased and contracts with employees with a fixed-term cannot be renewed. Permanent staff will also face one month layoffs during 2016. Other adjustments to the budgetary cuts will have to be continued in 2017.
KIOS is currently mapping alternative possibilities for funding and developing their own fundraising. The funding from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland for the year 2016 will be 1 120 000 €, if the plans to cut the budget will be realized. In 2015, the budget was 1 900 000 €.
The Finnish NGO Foundation for Human Rights KIOS is a consortium of eleven Finnish organizations working for human rights and development issues. KIOS was founded in 1998 to fund projects promoting human rights.
Founding organizations are Amnesty International Finnish Section, Committee of 100 in Finland, Finn Church Aid, Disability Partnership Finland, Finnish League for Human Rights, Finnish Peace Committee, Finnish Refugee Council, UN Association of Finland, Kepa, Finnish National Committee for UNICEF and The National Committee for UN Women in Finland.