25 Years in Finland in 2018

In 2018, we celebrated 25 years of IOM presence in Helsinki.

The agreement to open an IOM mission in Finland was signed in Geneva on April 22, 1993 by IOM’s Director General at that time, James N. Purcell and Antti Hynninen, Ambassador at Finland’s permanent mission to the international organizations in Geneva.

Hynninen was very active in working for the mission to be opened, as was also the Finnish government. That played a big part in the decision to chose Helsinki as the location of Regional Office for the Baltic and Nordic states.

The office in Helsinki started very small, with just a few staff members, some international IOM staff, some seconded by the ministries that IOM cooperated with.

Cooperation with the governments is a central part of IOM’s work to establish good migration governance. Another important part is the hands-on work with the migrants that IOM Finland has done in many forms in different countries.

As one part of our celebration we organized an Anniversary Seminar at the House of the Estates in Helsinki on May 24th, where we will talk about all that we have achieved but even more look into the future of migration movements.

Below you can find four excerpts from our anniversary publication if you want to read more about what has happened during the first quarter of a century of IOM Finland.


IOM Finland 25 Years Publication

IOM Finland 25 Years publication tells the story of the organization. The publication gives insights on how the regional office got established in Finland and how it has changed throughout the years.

Read the publication here.






Agenda and Speeches of Anniversary Seminar

IOM Finland celebrated the 25th anniversary with a high-level seminar for invited guests. The seminar was held in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the House of the Estates in Helsinki. Read the news article about the seminar here. Below you can find links to the agenda and speeches of the anniversary seminar.


Read the news article Our 25th Anniversary Seminar – Building a Shared Future Vision here.


Congratulatory Message from the Ministry of the Interior

Migration is one of the main issues on my political agenda as Minister of the Interior. Firstly, I see a need to increase labour migration to Finland by making this a compelling home country for international experts and by making sure that the residence permit system is functioning as efficiently as possible.

Secondly, I stress the importance of human rights. We need to ensure the rights of people seeking international protection and, at the same time, to continually support effective asylum procedures.

Thirdly, I find it important that we enable the effective return of people who have not been granted asylum or a residence permit in Finland based on work or studies.

In order for us to continue to have an open-minded, internationally oriented and safe Finland, we need to make sure that our asylum and residence permit systems are working as planned and that no shadow society of paperless migrants becomes established. A key factor in ensuring this is to assist in and support voluntary return.

Assisted voluntary return (AVR) programmes have been funded by the EU Return Fund and the Finnish Immigration Service and implemented by IOM Helsinki since 2010. The first project was carried out between 2010 and 2012 and it successfully supported the return of 858 people. In 2017, 1,422 foreign nationals were returned through the programme.

I would like to thank IOM for its important work and I applaud its efforts on behalf of displaced persons asylum seekers and refugees.

In the long term, I wish to see a more ambitious common European solution to the refugee question. We need a more controlled way of providing international protection which does not lead to human trafficking and unnecessary loss of life.

To guarantee such a comprehensive approach to managing migration on our continent, we need European-wide cooperation and practices. I hope and believe that IOM will take an even-more determined and decisive role in shaping this European system over the next 25 years.

Kai Mykkänen, Finnish Minister of the Interior 2018-2019