Estonia in transitional justice and child protection UNSC meeting

Undersecretary of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Märt Volmer
Undersecretary of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Märt Volmer Source: Foreign ministry

A UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting in New York this week focused on protecting children in armed conflicts, and supporting countries emerging from crises after widespread and systematic violations of international law, including human rights.

Estonia, which holds a non-permanent seat on the UNSC, was represented by Undersecretary of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Märt Volmer. Belgium, which holds the UNSC presidency, organized the meeting.

Volmer said both discussions were important and connected by the aim to alleviate human suffering.

"In 2018 alone, more than 12 000 children were killed or seriously injured in conflicts, and tens of thousands of minors are currently forced to participate in warfare," Volmer said, according to a foreign ministry press release.

"The UN is doing substantial work to reduce this number, and on Wednesday, I was delighted to endorse practical guidelines for negotiators and mediators on behalf of Estonia, along with other members of the UNSC. This will help further integrate child protection in peace processes," he added.

His Majesty, King of the Belgians Philippe I, also spoke at the meeting. 

Volmer drew parallels with Estonia's experience after the restoration of its independence, the context of the discussions on transitional justice.

"If we intend transitional justice mechanisms to truly heal grief-stricken communities, the measures taken need to be comprehensive and based on international law. Based on our own national experience, in order overcome the harmful legacy of mass atrocity crimes, it is vital to build strong institutions capable of preserving rule of law and ensuring human rights for all," Volmer said. 

Estonia supports international and independent efforts to collect data and preserve evidence of human rights violations, including in the current crises in Syria and Myanmar (Burma), the ministry says.  

The UNSC also adopted a resolution on Libya this week, aimed at helping to reduce external interference and bring the warring parties in the ongoing civil war there to the negotiating table.

Before the vote on the resolution, Märt Volmer read a joint statement from Estonia, Belgium, France, Germany and former UNSC member Poland to stress, among other things, the importance of ensuring a ceasefire in that country.

Volmer also held a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister of Guatemala Pedro Brolo, while in New York. The pair covered the importance of cybersecurity, climate change and its effect on Guatemala's economy, plus Estonia's experience with the implementation of digital services and opportunities for cooperation in the digital domain, the ministry said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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