Estonia starts one-month UN Security Council presidency stint on Friday ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

President Kersti Kaljulaid raising the UN flag at Kadriorg on New Year's Day this year, the date Estonia took up its UNSC non-permanent seat.
President Kersti Kaljulaid raising the UN flag at Kadriorg on New Year's Day this year, the date Estonia took up its UNSC non-permanent seat. Source: President's office

Estonia takes on the month-long rotating UN Security Council (UNSC) presidency from Friday, May 1, and plans to use its sting to focus on the coronavirus pandemic in the light of security, cybersecurity, fundamental principles of international law and increased transparency for the UNSC itself, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

Events marking the start of Estonia's term holding the UNSC presidency – the country took up its two-year non-permanent seat at the beginning of this year – include a cybersecurity meeting to be opened by Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center).

Work goes on despite pandemic

President Kersti Kaljulaid has already met, remotely given the pandemic, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, where they talked about the plight of civilians caught up in conflict zones in addition to the coronavirus spread.

Methodologies in meeting remotely are also in focus.

"We consider it important to ensure the maximum efficiency of the UNSC's work even via video meetings, and the maximum availability of open meetings to the public and other UN member states," Estonia's Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Sven Jürgenson said, according to a foreign ministry press release.

"It's about to begin," the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted on its social media page Thursday.

"Tomorrow, Estonia will take over the presidency of the UNSC. It takes place during the coronavirus crisis, but this does not affect our ambitions," the ministry went on.

Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) has provided an overview of the UNSC presidency to the cabinet and the media at an ensuing press conference. 

"The UNSC continues work through the coronavirus crisis, " Reinsalu said.

"When we became an elected member of the UNSC in January, we had no idea that in only a few months, the world would be dealing with one of the greatest crises since World War Two. This makes being at the helm of the UNSC at this time an even greater responsibility, but we are ready for it," he continued.

Diary of major events during Estonia's UNSC presidency

Estonia's UNSC presidency diary looks like this:

  • Friday 8 May: High-level meeting marking the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two, with discussions on the post-war international order, the current security situation and conflicts in Europe. The meeting is moderated and introduced by Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu. This will be live-streamed, and will feature Yale University professor Timothy Snyder and Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, as well as an EU representative.

  • Friday 15 May: Open video session on the UNSC's working methods, including measures to ensure the council's remote meetings match physical ones as closely as possible.

  • Friday 22 May: Informal meeting on cyber stability and conflict prevention, looking at conflict prevention, a stable and peaceful cyberspace, raising awareness on the UNSC about cyber threats and mechanisms supporting and regulating responsible state behaviour on the global, regional and national level. Opening statement from Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

  • Wednesday 27 May: High-level open meeting on the protection of civilians, which will discuss Secretary-General Guterres' annual report on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts. International law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights norms, as well as new threats, such as the impact of COVID-19, are also to be on the table. The UN Secretary-General will speak, as will President Kersti Kaljulaid.

  • Thursday 28 May: Open meeting on UN-EU cooperation, including a presentation on the union's Common Foreign and Security Policy and crises both bodies are aiming to resolve. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell will brief the Security Council.

More information on Estonia's guiding principles as an elected member of the UN Security Council is here, its UNSC statements so far are here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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