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Statement by H.E. Mr. Sven Mikser, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia at the Security Council open debate on upholding international law within the context of the maintenance of international peace and security, 17 May 2018


Mr. President,    

I would like to begin by thanking the Polish presidency of the Security Council for having convened this debate on a very timely and important topic. Estonia aligns itself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union.

Maintaining international peace and security is a vital question for the whole international community. The role of the Security Council is and has been pivotal in this regard. However, since the end of the Cold War, it has perhaps never been as difficult for the Security Council to fulfil its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security as it is now. The crisis situations to which the Council must respond have become more complex, transnational and multidimensional. Furthermore, modern conflicts threatening international peace and security are characterised by ever-broader use of new technologies.

Estonia is firmly of the position that crimes have to be prevented, investigated and prosecuted irrespective of the way they are committed, be it by using kinetic force or cyber means. The General Assembly of the United Nations has welcomed by its resolution 68/243 the report of governmental experts that confirms the applicability of international law to the use of information and communication technologies. Thus, international law is applicable when cyber means are used for threatening international peace and security. It is our view that the Security Council can and should use all powers deriving from the UN Charter to take action in such cases.

Mr. President,

Estonia is committed to promoting the respect for international law and the rules-based international order. For us, international law is an existential matter. It is of utmost importance to make full use of all the instruments and to act with full responsibility in preventing and ending conflicts. That includes the situations involving mass atrocity crimes. In order to make the whole system work, every country has to play its role. We need to strengthen our common efforts to bring an end to the conflicts and make perpetrators accountable.
It is unfortunate that the rules based international system – the foundation of the international community – is increasingly challenged and questioned. In recent times, we have been witnessing growing disunity and disagreements on a number of topics. Yet, it is clear that the international community needs the Security Council to uphold and promote international law by responding decisively to grave violations of international law, including that of humanitarian law and human rights law.

In this regard, I would like to highlight the ACT Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. The Code of Conduct has so far been signed by 116 Member States with the expectation that the Council should act in a timely and decisive manner to prevent and end atrocity crimes.
Furthermore, in ensuring respect for international criminal law, Estonia is convinced that we need a more productive relationship between the Security Council and the International Criminal Court. International criminal justice needs greater political support, and in particular from the Security Council. The Rome Statute reserves a unique role for the Security Council, as it can refer situations to the International Criminal Court that would otherwise not fall under its jurisdiction, like the situation in Syria. This mechanism is an important tool for ending impunity for the most serious international crimes. The efficiency of the ICC inevitably depends on States´ cooperation to enforce its decisions. When State Parties do not comply, the ICC must be able to rely on the Security Council to intervene with full support.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, let me emphasize that we need to keep up our efforts in order to strengthen the legitimacy of the Security Council resolutions and their implementation. In this regard, it is important to strive for a deeper cooperation both within the Security Council as well as with the wider UN membership and other actors. Estonia stands ready to engage in this partnership to better uphold international law and to maintain international peace and security.

Thank you, Mr. President!


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