Järvinen Iina and Lehtinen Sanna: Economic Access to the World Heritage Sites as a Constitutional Question: Case Suomenlinna

There are various right-and duty-holders concerning Suomenlinna, an inhabited island and sea fortress located in Helsinki. It is listed as world heritage, by virtue of the World Heritage Convention, which places some obligations to Finland as a state party of UNESCO. Suomenlinna is also legally protected under national legislation. As a neighborhood of Helsinki, Suomenlinna is a public space that belongs to everyone. At the same time, it is a home to hundreds of inhabitants. Therefore, people living in thearea have the right to privacy and to property. Local entrepreneurs have the right to their business and their livelihood. On a wider scale, as a world heritage site, Suomenlinna enables its visitors and residents to participate in the cultural life and to enjoy cultural heritage. In our presentation, we will explore the entry fees especially from the perspective of cultural and environmental rights guaranteed in the Constitution of Finland. In recent years, there has been some discussion about the possibility of setting an entrance fee for the Suomenlinna area. In 2018, three consultants gave statements to the governing body of Suomenlinna concerning the issue of entrance fees. As a result, a free access was secured. However, legal dimensions were largely lacking in statements. In our presentation, we will analyze these statements in terms of fundamental rights by using elements from classical regulation theory and justification analysis. The legal contradictions arise when a cultural heritage site that is supposed to be accessible for everyone, has entrance fees and opening hours. In other words, world heritage status may strengthen the protection of cultural heritage sites, but it may also undermine everyone’s freedom to roam or even the right to participate in cultural life equally. In our presentation, we will highlight these constitutional dilemmas and benefits in a scenario where visitors are charged for entering Suomenlinna.