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.
Estonia’s representatives to the United Nations
The permanent representatives of Estonia to the UN in New York
1991 - 1994
1994 - 1998
1998 - 2000
2000 - 2004
2004 - 2010
2010 - 2015
2015 – present
Estonia’s ambassadors to the UN and other international organisations in Geneva
1998 – 1999
2000 – 2004
2004 – 2009
2009 – 2015
Estonia’s permanent representatives to the organisations related to the UN and UN programmes
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and the UN Office in Vienna
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Estonia’s membership in the UN bodies and upcoming candidacies
Currently, Estonia is a member of the following UN bodies
· Human Rights Council 2013-2015
· ECOSOC 2015-2017
· UNICEF Executive Board 2014-2016
· UNICEF Bureau, vice-president
· UNESCO Executive Board 2013-2017
· UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) Council 2012-2015
· UNHCR ExCom 2007-present, membership termless
Estonian experts in UN Experts Groups
· Ivi Normet, WHO Standing Committee 2013-2015
· Oliver Loode, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFI) 2014-2016
· Mari Amos, UN Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) 2015-2018
· Henn Ojaveer, UN World Ocean Assessment Expert Group 2014-present
· Tõnis Saar has been nominated as an expert on the UN Committee on Contributions 2016-2018 (elections due in November 2015)
Estonia’s main upcoming candidacies
· UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 2017-2021
· UN Security Council, non-permanent member 2020-2021
· UN General Assembly Vice-President 2022-2023
· UN General Assembly President 2052
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,the Middle East, and Mali. The largest peacekeeping company to date, the 136-member ESTCOY took part in the UNIFIL mission to South Lebanon in 1996-1997. Since Spring 2015, up to 50 active duty officers in the Estonian Defence Forces participate in the UN peacekeeping mission UNIFIL in Lebanon.
Estonia has participated in the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) mission to Middle East since 1997.
Estonia also participates in the UN mandated international forces led by NATO in Kosovo (KFOR), the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali), and the EU led Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali). Since 2015, Estonia participates in the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan.
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.
Estonia, having ratified the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 30 January 2002, is a founding member of the ICC. The statute of the court came into force on 1 July 2002. Between 2011 and 2014, Tiina Intelmann was the President of the Assembly of States Parties.
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.
Estonia takes part in the main human rights meeting of the UN: as a member of the UN Human Rights Council (2013-2015) which convenes in Geneva, and in the annual 3rd Committee of the UN General Assembly in New York, 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 activities of UN Women. 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 was the vice-president of UN Women in 2012, and the vice-president of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 2014-2015.
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; Estonian experts have consistently been members of the UN Forum of Indigenous Peoples; the current membership is 2014-2016. Over the past 15 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) with voluntary contributions.
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), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and UN Women. Additionally Estonia has contributed to the thematic or country specific funds of the UN, such as the UNFPA fund for reproductive health.
A key activity of the United Nations is to assist countries which have suffered due to natural or humanitarian catastrophes and to coordinate international humanitarian aid in relation to these catastrophes. Estonia is taking a more active role in strengthening the UN catastrophe aid system and the activities of the UN subsidiary bodies in catastrophes. Estonia finds that the most effective and often most operative way to aid those who have suffered in natural or humanitarian catastrophes is through international organisations. Most of Estonian humanitarian contribution has been through such international organisations as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Red Cross Committee (ICRC), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP). Estonia has supported the activities or said organisations and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) through annual voluntary contributions for years.
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. The experts of the Estonian Disaster Relief Team have also contributed in various units in Haiti (2010), and in the Philippines (2013).
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 (R2P) 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 meeting the obligations taken regarding development.
Estonia also supports the UN Security Council reform, by way of making the Council more representative of the member states and more effective. Estonia also considers it important that any reform would have majority support.
More information on UN reform - http://www.un.org/reform/
GA resolution on the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission -
GA resolution on the establishment of the Human Rights Council -
EU declaration at the adoption of the HRC resolution -