Estonia in the United Nations
Estonia became a member of the United Nations on 17 September 1991. Estonia’s first permanent representative to the UN headquarters was Ernst Jaakson, Estonia’s long time consul general in New York and head of mission in the United States, a diplomat who with his service helped to maintain the legal continuity of the Republic of Estonia through the Soviet occupation.
Out of the 5 UN’s regional groups (Asian, African, Latin-American and Caribbean, Eastern European, Western European and Others) Estonia has been a member of the Eastern European Group since May 2004.
1.1 Activities: peace and security, human rights and development
Maintaining peace and security and the fight against terrorism
Estonia has ratified and complies with the 12 most important UN conventions against terrorism. In addition to these in the autumn of 2005 President of Estonia Arnold Rüütel signed the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. Estonia attaches great importance to the adoption of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism in the near future and also participates in the efforts to conclude the convention in New York.
Since Estonia first participated in an international peacekeeping operation in 1995 in Croatia, more than 1300 Estonian peacekeepers have taken part in various international peacekeeping and crisis management operations. In addition to Croatia, Estonia has participated in the UN peace missions to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon and Middle East. The largest peacekeeping company to date, the 136-member ESTCOY took part in the UNIFIL mission to South Lebanon in 1996-1997. Estonia has participated in the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) mission to Middle East since 1997. Presently the mission includes two military observers from Estonia.
Estonia also participates in the UN mandated international forces led by NATO in Kosovo (KFOR) and Afghanistan (International Security Assistance Force, ISAF), the Multinational Force in Iraq, as well as the EU-led peacekeeping mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Since 1996, more than 30 Estonian policemen have participated with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations in police missions to Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Kosovo.
In April 2005, a UN peacekeeping seminar Train the Trainers with participants from nearly 30 countries, organised jointly by Estonia and the United Nations, took place in Tallinn.
Estonia, having ratified the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 30 January 2002, is a founding member of the ICC.
Protecting and promoting respect for human rights
Estonia has ratified all principal UN human rights conventions and presented the reports foreseen in the conventions to the UN treaty bodies monitoring their implementation. Most recently, in July 2007 the UN discussed Estonia's 4th periodic report on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The discussion of Estonia's regular reports on the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) took place in August 2006.
In 2003 September President of Estonia Arnold Rüütel also signed the two optional protocols to the CRC on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography – the latter was ratified in August 2004. Additionally, in New York on 21 September 2004 President Rüütel signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Estonia continues to participate in the UN working groups developing international human rights law, presently in the process of preparing the text of an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Two most recent international human rights agreements, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances were adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol entered into force in May 2008; the Convention on Enforced Disappearances will come into effect after it has been ratified by 20 states.
Estonia takes part in the main human rights meeting of the UN: as an observer in the UN Human Rights Council (and previously in its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights), which convenes in Geneva, and in the 3rd Committee of the UN General Assembly, which deals with social, cultural and human rights issues.
In the promotion of human rights Estonia has paid special attention to the issues related to the protection and promotion of women’s rights as well as the rights of the child. These topics have been in the focus of Estonia's human rights statements in addition to the support given to various UN funds and programmes, including the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). Strengthening gender mainstreaming in the UN policies and programmes has been one of Estonia's priorities in the process of improving the coherence of the UN's activities.
Estonia attaches equally great importance to the protection of the rights of the world's indigenous peoples: in addition to addressing the topic in the UN human rights fora, Estonia participated in the UN Working group on a draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples; an Estonian expert has also been elected a member of the UN Forum of Indigenous Peoples for 2005-2007. Over the past 10 years Estonia has continued to support the UN funds for indigenous peoples (Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations, Voluntary Fund for the International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples).
Contributing to multilateral development co-operation is an integral part of Estonia's development co-operation. In addition to bilateral co-operation Estonia has supported international development co-operation through voluntary contributions since 1998: this includes regular contributions to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UN Children's Funds (UNICEF), UN funds for the promotion of human rights, including UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations and UN Voluntary Fund for the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Additionally Estonia has contributed to the thematic or country specific funds of the UN, including the UNFPA fund for reproductive health, UNICEF’s educational programme in Iraq and the UNHCR programme to assist Sudanese refugees in Chad.
Since 2000 Estonia has also been represented in the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team (UNDAC), participating in the UN missions to Iran, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Yakutia and Georgia. The Estonian Disaster Relief Team worked in Indonesia in the Banda Aceh region after the tsunami which hit South-East Asia and the Indian Ocean region at the end of 2004 and in Pakistan after the earth quake in the autumn of 2005.
1.2 Estonia and UN reform
The most extensive and profound decisions on UN reform were taken at the UN World Summit, which at the 60th session of the UN General Assembly brought together the heads of state and government of the UN member states. Estonia has strongly supported the reforms related to development, security and human rights and, as a member of the European Union, also actively participated in the discussions leading to the 2005 September Summit as well as the succeeding discussions on the details of implementing the reform decisions.
Estonia attaches great importance to the Summit's agreements on the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) for the coordination of the UN post-conflict reconstruction activities and the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in order to strengthen the UN’s capacity to protect and promote the respect for human rights. Estonia also considers the meeting’s decisions on development, the responsibility to protect and the establishment of a UN Democracy Fund to be among the most significant outcomes of the summit.
Estonia also considers it vital to proceed with the implementation of the Summit decisions. In this regard Estonia views the agreement of the General Assembly on the modalities of the PBC necessary for its operation achieved in December 2005 as well as the Assembly decision on the establishment of the Human Rights Council in March 2006 as important steps forward. It is also vital to follow up the rest of the Summit decisions, including UN management reform, concluding an agreement on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism and meet the obligations taken regarding development.
More information on UN reform - http://www.un.org/reform/
GA resolution on the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission - http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=A/60/L.40
GA resolution on the establishment of the Human Rights Council - http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=A/60/L.48
EU declaration at the adoption of the HRC resolution - http://europa-eu-un.org/articles/en/article_5806_en.htm
Estonia's representatives to the UN
|The permanent representatives of Estonia to the UN in New York|
|The permanent representatives of Estonia to the UN and other international organisations in Geneva|
|Estonia's permanent representatives to the organisations related to the UN and UN programmes|
|International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO Preparatory Commission) and the UN Office in Vienna||Eve-Külli Kala|
|Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)||Peep Jahilo|
|United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)||Marten Kokk|
|UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)||Siim Tiidemann|