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Statement by H. E. Mr. Margus Kolga, Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN at the 21st International Conference on Health and Environment: “Food security and and Sustainanability: Commemorating Holodomor”


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Estonia commemorates the millions of victims of the famine-genocide of 1932-1933 in Ukraine, known as Holodomor. This is a tragedy everybody should remember as one of the catastrophic consequences of  totalitarianism in the 20th century, resulting from the Stalinist policy of collectivisation and its aggressive dehumanisation. 

The final report of the International Commission of Inquiry Into the 1932-1933 Famine in Ukraine delivered in 1990 to the UN Under-Secretary for Human Rights in Geneva, and to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, concluded that the famine in Ukraine was a genocide. Among the countries that have declared Holodomor as genocide, Estonia was the first one to adopt a parliamentary declaration on October 20, 1993 condemning “the communist policy of genocide in Ukraine”.

A significant step forward in the global recognition of Holodomor tragedy was made with the pronouncement of the Joint declaration at the United Nations on November 10, 2003, in connection with the 70th anniversary of Holodomor, where it was declared as a national tragedy for the Ukrainian people caused by the policies of the totalitarian regime.

This year, while honouring the 79th anniversary of Holodomor, we would also like to commemorate the millions of representatives of other nationalities who died of starvation in the Volga River region, the Northern Caucasus, Kazakhstan and in other parts of the former Soviet Union, as a result of civil war and the forced collectivisation of the 1930s. We underline the importance of continued revelation of abuses and violations of human rights, preservation of historical evidence, and restoration of the dignity of victims.

Unfortunately, in the 21st century famine has not yet become history. Mostly because of wars and instability. The unwillingness or inability of certain governments to implement necessary reforms in the food security and agricultural sector also has a major impact on this. Last year we faced famine in the Horn of Africa - the worst in 60 years. This year we faced food insecurity crises in the Sahel region. Estonia as a donor has provided food assistance to the people in need but these regions need long-term solutions like increased resilience to droughts and other weather hazards, not just emergency relief. 

The 80th anniversary of Holodomor will be commemorated next year. This anniversary reminds us that we have to put our tremendous efforts into avoiding the recurrence of similar catastrophes in the future.

We also have to remember what horrific effect totalitarianism have had and has on people, what a suffering it has created. And we have to continue to fight it.


Thank you for your attention.





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