Estonia Chosen to Be Member of UN Human Rights Council
On 12 November, elections for the UN Human Rights Council took place in New York and Estonia was elected to be a member of the council from 2013-2015. Estonia’s candidacy received support from 184 countries, with five abstentions. Foreign Minister Paet stated that this tremendous support indicates that Estonia is appreciated and taken seriously as a player in the international human rights sector.
Foreign Minister Paet asserted that membership in the UN Human Rights Council is an important achievement for Estonia, it is undoubtedly also a great responsibility to be involved in a council that discusses human rights developments, challenges and violations all over the globe and that helps to prevent and react to conflicts and massive human rights violations. “The Human Rights Council has shown that it is capable of reacting quite quickly when serious violations of human rights arise,” added the foreign minister.
Paet stated that promoting and protecting human rights is a priority of Estonia’s domestic and foreign policy. “Estonia presented its candidacy in 2005. The Foreign Ministry has focused its activities in order to achieve this important long-term goal,” added Foreign Minister Paet.
According to Paet, Estonia has increased its contribution and involvement in the UN year by year. “Estonia has joined most of the UN’s major human rights-related conventions and regularly presents reports on the implementation of these conventions. In recent years Estonia has systematically strengthened its reputation as a country that protects and promotes human rights internationally. Estonia’s priorities in the human rights sector have been introduced in many forums, relations have been intensified with similarly-minded countries, and support has been gathered for Estonia’s candidacy to the Human Rights Council,” added Foreign Minister Paet.
Membership in the Human Rights Council is a logical continuation of Estonia’s international human rights activities to date in the UN as well as in other international organisations that Estonia is a member of.
As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Estonia will prioritise the following topics: democracy, supporting fundamental rights and rule of law; protecting and promoting freedom of expression, including the increasingly important topic of internet freedom; the rights of women and children; matters related to the rights of indigenous peoples, and many others.
The UN Human Rights Council is one of three councils in the UN with limited membership, which is made up of 47 elected and rotating member states from among all the regional groups. The council’s job is to protect and promote human rights all over the world.
The Human Rights Council was established with a decision by the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 as the successor of the UN Commission on Human Rights. The creation of the Human Rights Council was an important step forward in protecting and promoting human rights all around the globe.