Conscription in Finland
Conscription in Finland is part of a wider, general "national defense duty" defined in the 127§ of the Constitution of Finland
Constitution of Finland
The Constitution of Finland is the supreme source of national law of Finland. It defines the basis, structures and organisation of government, the relationship between the different constitutional organs, and lays out the fundamental rights of Finnish citizens...


Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 can take the form of military or of civilian service. Currently, c.66% of males reaching military age do their military service, while a growing number of men opt for civilian service. Some 40 men choose to serve unarmed, but in the military. The service period is six, nine or twelve months for the rank and file conscripts and twelve months for conscripts trained as NCO
Non-commissioned officer
A non-commissioned officer , called a sub-officer in some countries, is a military officer who has not been given a commission...

s or reserve officers. The length of civilian service is always twelve months. Those electing to serve unarmed in the military serve either nine or twelve months, depending on their training. A person declining both military and civilian service is sentenced to 182 days in jail. Such sentence is always served fully in prison, with no parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...

. Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

 are exempted in that they may be granted a deferment of service for 3 years upon presentation of a certificate from their congregation's minister showing they are an active member of that religious community. Providing they are still an active member 3 years later, there is nothing to stop them getting a further certificate and deferment.

The military service takes place in Finnish Defence Forces
Finnish Defence Forces
The Finnish Defence Forces are responsible for the defence of Finland. It is a cadre army of 15,000, of which 8,900 are professional soldiers , extended with conscripts and reservists such that the standard readiness strength is 34,700 people in uniform...

 or in the Finnish Border Guard
Finnish Border Guard
The Finnish Border guard is the national security agency responsible for enforcing the security of Finland's borders...

. Civilian service may take place in the Civilian Service Center of Lapinjärvi or in an accepted non-profit organization of educational, social or medical nature.

The inhabitants of the demilitarized Åland Islands
Åland Islands
The Åland Islands form an archipelago in the Baltic Sea. They are situated at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia and form an autonomous, demilitarised, monolingually Swedish-speaking region of Finland...

 are exempt from military service. By the Conscription Act of 1950, they are, however, required to serve a time at a local institution, like the coast guard. However, until such service has been arranged, they are freed from service obligation. The non-military service of Åland islands has not been arranged since the introduction of the act, and there are no plans to institute it. The inhabitants of Åland islands can also volunteer for military service on the mainland. As of 1995, women were permitted to serve on a voluntary basis and pursue careers in the military after their initial voluntary military service.

Military service

The Finnish defence forces is based on a universal male conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

. All men above 18 years of age are liable to serve either six, nine or twelve months. Yearly about 27,000 conscripts are trained. 66% of the males complete the service. The conscripts first receive basic training, after which they are assigned to various units for special training. Privates who are trained for tasks not requiring special skills serve for six months. In technically demanding tasks the time of service is nine or (in some cases, such as those selected for NCO or officer training) twelve months. At the completion of the service, the conscripts receive a reserve military rank of private
Private (rank)
A Private is a soldier of the lowest military rank .In modern military parlance, 'Private' is shortened to 'Pte' in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries and to 'Pvt.' in the United States.Notably both Sir Fitzroy MacLean and Enoch Powell are examples of, rare, rapid career...

, lance corporal
Lance Corporal
Lance corporal is a military rank, used by many armed forces worldwide, and also by some police forces and other uniformed organizations. It is below the rank of corporal, and is typically the lowest non-commissioned officer, usually equivalent to the NATO Rank Grade OR-3.- Etymology :The presumed...

, corporal
Corporal is a rank in use in some form by most militaries and by some police forces or other uniformed organizations. It is usually equivalent to NATO Rank Code OR-4....

, sergeant
Sergeant is a rank used in some form by most militaries, police forces, and other uniformed organizations around the world. Its origins are the Latin serviens, "one who serves", through the French term Sergent....

 or second lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :The rank second lieutenant was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign , although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal...

 depending on their training and accomplishments. After their military service, the conscripts are placed in reserve until the age of 50 or 60, depending on their military rank. During their time in reserve, the reservists are liable to participate in military refresher exercises for a maximum of 40, 75 or 100 days, depending on their military rank. In addition, all reservists are liable for activation in a situation where the military threat against Finland has seriously increased, in full or partial mobilization or in a large-scale disaster or a virulent epidemic. The males who do not belong to the reserve may only be activated in case of full mobilization, and those rank-and-file personnel who have fulfilled 50 years of age only with a specific parliamentary decision.

Military service can be started after turning 18, but can be delayed due to studies, work or other personal reasons until the age of 28. In addition to lodging, food, clothes and health care the conscripts receive between €4.70
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

 and €11.20 per day, depending on the time they have served. The state also pays for their rent and electricity bills. If the conscripts have families, they are entitled to benefits as well. It is illegal to fire an employee due to military service or due to a refresher exercise or activation. Voluntary females in military service receive a small additional benefit, because they are expected to provide their own underwear and other personal items.

Military service consists of lessons, practical training, various cleaning and maintenance duties and field exercises. The wake-up call is usually at 6am and a day's typical service lasts for twelve hours, including meals and some breaks. In the evening there are a few hours of free time. Roll call is at 9pm, and at 10pm silence is announced, after which no noise can be made. On a majority of weekends conscripts can leave the barracks on Friday and are expected to return by midnight on Sunday evening. A small force of conscripts is kept in readiness on weekends to aid civil agencies in various types of emergency situations, to guard the premises and to maintain defence in case of a sudden military emergency. Field exercises can go on regardless of the time of day or week. An average conscript spends 40–60 nights outdoors during field exercises, depending on his unit.

The training of conscripts is based on the joukkotuotanto principle (lit. English troop production). In this system, 80% of the conscripts train to fulfill a specific role in a specific war-time military unit. Each brigade-level unit has a responsibility of producing specified reserve units from the conscripts it has been allocated. As the reservists are discharged, they receive a specific war-time placement in the unit with which they have trained during their conscription. As the conscripts age, their unit is given new, different tasks and materiel. Typically, reservists are placed for the first five years in first-line units, then moved to military formations with less demanding tasks, while the reservists unable to serve in the unit are substituted with reservists from the reserve without specific placement. In refresher exercises, the unit is then given new training for these duties, if the defence budget permits this.

Non-military service

Non-military service has a fixed length of 362 days and consists of basic training and the actual service. The basic training takes place in the Lapinjärvi civilian service center and lasts 28 days. During basic training, the serviceman is given instruction in first aid, peace education, internationalism, and non-violent resistance. In addition, some trainees receive an anti-oil leak or anti-violence activity training. During the basic training, the civilian servicemen have training during weekdays from 8.00 until 16.00. On Fridays, the service usually ends before noon, while weekends are off. The servicemen are allowed to leave the service center freely during their free time, and may, if they wish, live at their homes during the basic training.

For the actual service period, the serviceman is required to obtain a service place, which must have an agreement with the civilian service center. During the actual service period, the place of service is responsible for the health care and maintenance of the serviceman. The serviceman is obligated to work for 40 hours a week at times prescribed by the place of service. He has the right to enjoy a continuous daily rest period hours of 8 hours, however. The work is carried out according to the usual civilian OSHA
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work was set up in 1996 in Bilbao, Spain. Its mission is "to make Europe's workplaces safer, healthier and more productive...

 regulations. During his free time, the serviceman is allowed to leave the premises of the service place freely. During the service and basic training, the serviceman receives the same daily allowance as the conscript. During the service, the serviceman is entitled to receive 18 days of leave, in addition to his free time. In addition to this leave, he may receive a maximum of 20 days of leave for good performance.

If the serviceman does not comply with his duties and obligations or is absent, the service place is obligated to inform the civilian service center, which carries out an investigation. For minor infractions, the serviceman may be punished administratively. The punishment consists of a written warning, extra work (maximum 4 hours/day for five days), or the loss of daily allowance for a maximum of 30 days. If the infractions are continuous, the civilian service center reports the serviceman to the police and discharges him. After this, the serviceman is usually convicted of civilian service crime to prison for a time that corresponds half of his remaining term of service. No parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...

 is available. The same punishment applies to those who make a written denounciation of their service obligation. After serving the prison term, the former inmate is freed of his remaining peace-time service obligations.

After their service, the civilian servicemen belong to the civil reserve (siviilivaranto) until the end of their 50th life year. After this, they belong to the civil militia (lisävaranto) until the end of their 60th life year. During this time, they may be activated for extra training, if the international tension rises to the level where military reserves are activated. During a mobilization, the civilian servicemen may be mobilized and assigned duties in civil defence, rescue authorities or environmental authorities. In case of general mobilization, the parliament may give permission to activate even the civil militia. The "total objectors", who have served a prison term for refusing civilian service, receive no exceptions. The activated or mobilized servicemen receive the same pay as rank-and-file reservists.

In case of a crises where reserve is partially activated, the automatic acceptance into civilian service is suspended. Instead, those applying to the civilian service on grounds of conscience must demonstrate their personal, non-violent conviction to an investigation board. The board would consist of three professional judges, a psychologist selected by the civilian service center, an officer selected by the Finnish Defence Forces and a priest or a religious scholar. Only those who could prove their conviction would be given the right to civilian service. Persons failing the examination would be liable for military service. However, those who have already served their civilian or supplemental service are ensured of their right to non-military duties at all times. In addition, any conscript or activated reservist always has the right to be transferred to non-armed military service, regardless of eventual crisis.

If, after his military service, a person experiences a crisis of conscience that prevents him from fulfilling his reserve obligations, he may ask the Military regional office for acceptance into civilian service. In such a case, the person is ordered to start a supplemental service, the length of which is not more than 40 days, but usually less. After starting the supplemental service, the person is transferred to civilian reserve and cannot be ordered to serve in military duties at any time.

Other forms of conscription

Finnish conscription is based on the general duty of national defence, which applies to all citizens, regardless of their age or sex. The other forms of the fulfillment of this duty are
  • Duty to partake in civil defense training
  • General work duty
  • Duty to partake in rescue operations

The duty to partake in civil defense training is applicable to those persons who have been designated as civil defense personnel by a competent authority. Such persons may be called up to civil defense training for a maximum of ten days per year. During the training, they enjoy the same benefits and pay as activated reservists.

The duty to partake in rescue operations is applicable to anyone near a fire or an accident. Everyone is required to report the accident or fire and to immediately start such rescue and fire-fighting they are capable of. After the arrival of the rescue crew, the chief of the rescue operation may order anyone who is nearby to help in rescue operation in such manner as they are capable, if preventing an accident or saving a human life requires the order. If the emergency cannot be otherwise controlled, a career rescue authority official may order any person inside the municipality to immediately arrive at the place of operation to assist in the operation.

The general work duty is applicable only during a severe crisis which involves a war, a foreign aggression, a heightened international tension causing a danger of war, a severe disruption of international economy or a large-scale disaster. In the case of such emergency, the Government may, using the powers given by the Emergency Powers Act, introduce a general work duty, pertaining to all Finnish citizens between 16 and 65 years of age. In the case of non-military emergency, a person may only be ordered to perform work pertaining to health care, civil defense or rescue operations. In case of a military emergency, the work may consist of any duties that are necessary to secure the livelihood of the population and the national economy, to maintain legal order and constitutional and human rights, and to safeguard the territorial integrity and independence of Finland in emergency conditions. However, the work must be such that the person obligated to work can carry it out within their skills and strength. The order to work suspends, but does not terminate, the present employment. The work carried out by the obligated person is regulated under the usual conditions of the field of employment and the standard union wages are paid for it.

During a war or an armed crisis, the military has the power to order persons present in the area which is exposed to enemy attack to perform such work as is necessary for the maintenance of the troops or for the defense preparations. A person given such an order may not be obligated to work for longer than 12, or in special circumstances, 24 days. Anyone between 15 and 65 years of age may be drafted for such work, regardless of nationality, occupation or obligation to perform general work duty. The right to draft civilians for necessary work is delegated to commanders of battallion-sized units.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.