Better WORLD A peace begins in the individual n essential prerequisite for peace is that all people are given an opportunity to develop and to find their place in society, says Eva Biaudet, the Finnish Ombudsman for Minorities and a presidential candidate in the early 2012 elections. According to Biaudet, Finns are accustomed to thinking that a society with equality and justice is a matter of course. "We have been able to advance our well-being for quite a long time. The premise has been that everyone is given the opportunity to pursue a good life through education and employment. Individuals feel a sense of responsibility for one another, and no one is abandoned. "A good example of our ability to make sacrifices for the common good was the resettling of 430,000 evacuees after World War II. Compared to that, it seems odd that people would even bother to argue about whether we can afford to accept family members of refugees from crisis areas." Biaudet notes that in many countries prejudices against minorities chip away the social capital, upon which also economic success is based. This development can be avoided in Finland. "How we treat our weakest has an impact on our sense of security. If trust between individuals is lost, there is increased friction in all interactions and in the economy. You cannot outsource caring for your fellow men." The U.S. Department of State awarded Biaudet in June 2011 for her work to combat human trafficking. In justifying the award, it was noted that Finland's rapporteur on human trafficking and the former OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings has not only brought attention to the problems, but has also led efforts to educate authorities and to help victims. "In the anti-human trafficking work, I found it shocking that prostitutes are often resigned to the fact that as victims of even a serious crime they do not receive the same protection as others. People who are unable to stand up for their own rights must be given special attention. "If society closes its eyes to the problems minorities have, it allows the erosion of also a good value base," Biaudet emphasises. "In a globalised world, a safe and good society is not a matter of course. We all must work every day to ensure that everyone has the right to a dignified life." TEXT JorMa leppänen PHOTO MarIca roSenGård 7
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