Statements and articles »

Statement by H. E. Mr. Urmas Paet, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia at the Fifty-Second Session of the Commission for Social Development



Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen


At this Fifty-Second Session of the Commission for Social Development I would like to welcome you all to this discussion on promoting the empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration, full employment and decent work for all.


Aligning ourselves fully with the statement made on behalf of the European Union, we would like to highlight some specific issues to which Estonia attaches particular importance.


At the outset, let me stress the importance of the report of the Secretary-General as a timely and forward-looking policy document, which sets the pace for result-oriented action through clear policy recommendations. As we approach the 2005 World Summit’s Millennium Development Goals’ target year of 2015 we should acknowledge all that has been achieved. At the same time we must admit that there is much more to be done during the upcoming years within the post-2015 agenda.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


Human society cannot be sustained unless environmental, economic and social developments are addressed in combined way and with great concern. We are here today to contribute to this discussion. In nutshell the question is about the people, about their empowerment, so that they could live the life as equal members of society, realize their rights and fully use their potential. No one should be left behind. In particular, we should look out for those in need and in danger. We should respect human rights and to notice the injustice. First and foremost, we should act responsibly.


In my view, the most necessary preconditions for the empowerment of people are the following. First - education.


Our future depends on an education for all. Indeed, the second Millenium Development Goal directly addresses universal primary education. Actually, education is critical for attaining all 8 MDGs. However, for sustainable and prosperous future we must build on efforts completed so far, but also continue with education for all on higher levels of education. Education can help end forced child marriages and the development of professional skills is the way out from cheap child labour. Education is crucial to end poverty and to contribute to social integration and full employment. Only an all-level approach to education can help bring children out from the reach of war lords and help stop them being used as soldiers.


We must all contribute to implementing an all-inclusive and people-centred approach where everybody has the right and possibility to realize their dreams, aspirations and capabilities. No Lost Generation initiative that addresses the dramatic situation in Syria is an exemplary step forward by the international community, including UNICEF, UNHCR, Save the Children, World Vision and other key partners to galvanize global support for the children of Syria. The sustainable development goals that address these concerns should be taken up with the same forward-looking courage.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


As rightly pointed out in the Secretary General’s report, empowerment requires responsive decision makers and leaders that citizens can hold to account. In close linkage with education, we also need to work towards our target of building more inclusive societies based on the rule of law and responsibility, accountability and transparency as inevitable norms of governance. There is no excuse for discrimination on any cause. Special attention should be paid to human rights, particularly to the rights of children and women and other vulnerable or marginalized groups. At the same time, it is important to grasp the entire picture – the optimal use of every state’s own resources, responsibility of private sector, the opportunities presented by international financial institutions and methods of combating climate change.


Bearing this in mind, we should take the full advantage of 21st century technological developments that create enormous possibilities for empowering people, enable people to participate in decision making processes and enhance their living conditions. For instance, the more extensive use of technological achievements is the way out from the fossil energy trap for the developing countries. Broader use of information and communications technology and bridging the digital divide are at the heart of a new and sustainable global society.


This is the case in different ways. Firstly, information technology is the engine of a new economy; it generates entrepreneurship, hides within itself new jobs and serves as a gateway to unlimited knowledge. Secondly, if we contribute to the spread of information technology, we also increase the likelihood and extent of access to education. A better education, in turn, leads to more entrepreneurship.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


In Estonia, we like to think that we live in a Positively Transforming country. One of the key factors supporting our positive transitions over the last two decades has been the bold use of ICT. Using ICT to build innovative e-governance services helps to build a more efficient and transparent public administration. It is a business catalyst and presents new possibilities for civil society participation. For example, Estonia was the first country where people could also cast their vote online in parliamentary and municipal elections. We also conducted our census online to a large extent. E-government, E-school, E-medical prescriptions, and an electronic land registry are only some of the examples of Estonian innovation in the field of citizen-friendly public services. They increase transparency. Most importantly, they have increased the possibility to exercise fundamental rights and freedoms, cut down corruption and improved inclusive and responsible governance. And they reduce costs.


Estonia is ready to share its E-governance skills – with all its success stories and misfortunes - and to continue to facilitate exchanges with partners worldwide. I am confident that the wider and more venturous usage of modern ICT solutions could be one of the key enablers when we speak about empowerment of people, good governance, and efficiency, access to services, job creation, transparency and accountability in the context of the new sustainable development framework. And these technologies support the most vulnerable groups within the society as well: women, children and people with disabilities. E-solutions can help build more coherent, inclusive and sustainable societies.


Dear Friends,


Let me conclude with the words of Malala, who’s passionate message shall carry forward our task here: One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. The same principles apply when we join in efforts to promote the empowerment of people, eradicate poverty, and enhance social integration, full employment and decent work for all.


Thank you for your attention!



© Permanent Representation to the UN 3 Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, 305 East 47th Street, 6th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10017,
tel. (1 212) 883 06 40, e-mail: