Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand presented Estonia’s report on the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. This was the second regular review of the human rights situation in Estonia held at the UN Human Rights Council.
Foreign Minister Kaljurand stressed Estonia's strong commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, both domestically and in regards to foreign policy. “For Estonia, the promotion and protection of human rights, both domestically and through foreign policy, complement each other. Estonia's membership in the UN Human Rights Council, which ended last year, gave us the opportunity both domestically, as well as internationally, to emphasize the importance of human rights," Kaljurand said. "As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Estonia focused on women's and children's rights, the consideration of gender aspects in conflict resolution, the fight against impunity, indigenous peoples' rights, freedom of expression, freedom of the Internet and LGBT rights," she added.
Kaljurand presented an overview of recent developments, beginning with the 2011 review of Estonia's human rights situation and highlighted a number of steps which Estonia is planning to take in the coming years in the field of human rights. For example, Estonia is continuing with the necessary preparations to join the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, to ratify the Council of Europe (Istanbul) Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, and is taking steps to accede to the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education.
In the discussion following the presentation, 73 countries presented their opinions on the human rights situation in Estonia. Progress was acknowledged in several areas, such as for joining a number of human rights conventions, including the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, while protection and promotion of freedom of expression, including in cyberspace, the establishment of a children's ombudsman institution, and the Gender Equality Council were also pointed out as positive developments. Estonia's activities in increasing the influence of the International Criminal Court were also noted.
States were interested in the situation in prisons in Estonia and in Estonia's activities regarding combating violence against women and domestic violence. Member States also gave recommendations to join several international conventions on the protection of human rights, to ensure sufficient funding for the activities of the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner, and to create a central national organization for the protection of human rights.
Estonia's second periodic review with recommendations from other countries, shall be adopted at the United Nations on January 22; the full report will be approved at the UN Human Rights Council's June session.