Astrid Thors
Astrid Thors

Astrid Thors of Finland took up the mandate of OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities on 20 August 2013 succeeding Ambassador Knut Vollebaek of Norway. Her three-year tenure ended on 19 August 2016.

Before taking up the position as High Commissioner, Thors was a Member of the Finnish Parliament from 2004 to 2013. While in office she was a member of the Grand Committee (2004–2007 and 2011–2013), of the Constitutional Law Committee (2004–2007), and of the Legal Affairs Committee (2004–2007).

She also served as Minister of Migration and European Affairs from 2007 to 2011. As Minister she was responsible for the Finnish migration policy, Finnish EU policy, relations with the autonomous region of the Åland Islands, and the Finnish Baltic Sea Policy. During her tenure the prospects for the autonomous region to influence the legal procedures in the EU were improved and a white paper on the Baltic Sea Policy was adopted stressing the need to recycle the nutrients used in Finnish Agriculture. She was responsible for issues relating to both migration and integration; during her time as minister a new law on integration was adopted. The administration of immigration affairs was also further developed.

From 1996 until 2004 Thors was a Member of the European Parliament, where she chaired the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) with Romania (1999–2002), and was a member of the JPC with Slovakia (1997–1999) and Latvia (2002–2004), respectively. She was also part of temporary committees dealing with the need to develop response measures to maritime disasters such as the Erica disaster as well as questions relating to human genetic technology. Thors also dealt with food safety regulations, e-money, and was vice-chair of the Petitions Committee. In that capacity she followed up on the work of the Ombudsman and engaged in activities to combat maladministration and increase transparency in the EU institutions.

High Commissioner Thors has held a number of positions of trust such as Chair of the Advisory Board of International Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2011–2013), Chair of the Swedish Assembly in Finland (2005–2007), as well as Chair of Unicef Finland (2000–2005).

High Commissioner Thors is a Lawyer by education. She was appointed Officier de la Légion d’honneur of France in 2012, Commander of the Order of the White Rose of Finland in 2009 and was awarded the Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit in 2007.