Statement by the Permanent Representative, H.E. Margus Kolga, at the UN Democracy Caucus meeting
Thank you Madam Chair,
At the outset let me thank Mongolia for organizing this meeting and for giving an overview of the achievements and planned activities. We welcome the Mongolia’s decision to disseminate the principles of democracy by establishing the working group of Leaders Engaged in New Democracies (LEND). Estonia as a co-chair of this group sees the added value of the group as it brings together those who have know-how and those who need that know-how. Hence, I would like to emphasize Estonia’s support for all the countries striving to carry out democratic reforms and make change a reality.Madam Chair,
I would like to focus on two points in my intervention. Firstly, freedom of Internet, which has evolved into some of the greatest global challenges. According to the Freedom House, Estonia is among countries with the highest Internet freedom. We feel that we have an obligation to raise the issue as part of our human rights agenda and this is something that Estonia would like to develop further in the UN Human Rights Council, should we be elected for 2013-2015. Last year, Estonia also joined the Coalition Freedom Online.Madam Chair,
Freedom of expression has to be applied regardless of the medium used to convey the message. In many respect, information has never been as free as it is today. In the digital era it is increasingly more difficult to deny the freedom of expression. Moreover, new technologies encourage citizens to take more active role in the governance of their country. E-governance, online social networks, search engines – to name just a few – are all irreplaceable tools for the promotion of democracy. Events in the Arab world are a good example of the role that the Internet and modern information and communications technology can play.We are concerned about growing attempts to abuse information technology and to use it to limit the free exchange of opinions. Unfortunately, at this very moment there are countries where the political content of the Internet is systematically filtered. Even worse, often bloggers and journalists are imprisoned. Democratic societies should make sure that their non-violent struggle is not only noticed but also recognized and supported.Estonia has undertaken various initiatives that use new technologies for promoting human rights and democracy. Today, we are known for our e-voting, e-Cabinet, e-Health service and many others. We have shared our experience with our development co-operation partners and beyond. Some 40 countries around the world use Estonian e-solutions, including a number of post-conflict countries where they have become important tools for the transition to democracy.
I will now turn to the second point that I would like to address, Rule of Law, as this is high on the UN agenda and we appreciate that Secretary General has made the Rule of Law central to his vision for the next five years. It is clear that Rule of Law has a link with vast number of major issues of today’s UN Agenda and has a potential to create the bridge between them. In light of recent profound political changes in many parts of the world, and of new threats to international peace, it is even more important that the rule of law remains on the agenda of the UN.
Estonia is firmly committed to the international order based on international law, including human rights law and the rule of law. Since initiating our first development cooperation project in 1998, Estonia has become an international donor and the rule of law enjoys a prominent place in our development cooperation strategy. Estonia has created a stable and fruitful basis for cooperation with many of our partner countries by sharing our recent experience of social, political and economical reforms. That is why we support and highly value the EU cooperation in the field of rule of law with its eastern neighbours in the framework of the Eastern Partnership. We are also actively involved in several EU civilian crisis management operations with the focus on the rule of law.
Madam Chair,To conclude, we firmly believe that with comprehensive utilization of ICT solutions it is possible to make our societies more transparent and citizen-oriented. We wish Mongolia success and good cooperation during the presidency of the Community of Democracies.