Foreign minister to UN: Estonia committed to human rights and freedoms

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Eva-Maria Liimets. Source: ERR

Foreign minister Eva-Maria Liimets says that Estonia is committed to the preservation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Liimets made her comments during a remote-linked UN Human Rights Council meeting Tuesday afternoon, where Estonia's national report on the issues was formally presented.

Liimets said, via a ministry press release, that: "Respect for international law as well as the protection and advancement of human rights contributes to global peace and security. These are our guiding principles both on the national and international level."

"These principles have been adopted in Estonia's Foreign Policy Strategy 2030 and our first Human Rights Action Plan," Liimets, who appointed Estonia's first ambassador-at-large for human rights and migration in 2020, while she was an ambassador herself, said.

Liimets was also presenting Estonia's national report Tuesday. The report will be submitted to the UN's third Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which gives an overview of human rights developments and recommendations by states.

The last such reviews took place in 2016 and 2011.

Liimets also outlined the most recent human rights developments and further progress made in Estonia.

She said: "I am glad to say that Estonia has actively addressed the proposals made in the last review and most of these recommendations have already been implemented."

Childrens' and women's rights was particularly in focus, Liimets added, as were press freedoms: A Media Freedom Coalition conference is being planned for December, she added.

Estonia's third UPR report is due to be adopted by the UN on 7th May and fully adopted by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in September.

Estonia is in the second year (of two) of its non-permanent tenure on the UN Security Council.

The foreign minister said UN Security Council membership has enabled Estonia to raise human rights issues, as grave human rights violations were an early warning of potential conflict. "Our priority as the member of the Security Council is advancing the participation of women in all stages of conflict resolution. We are also stressing that perpetrators of sexual offenses in conflicts must be identified and held to account," Liimets added.

Estonia was also a member of the UN Human Rights Council in 2013-2015 and is applying for membership again for 2026-2028.

All 193 UN member states undergo a human rights situation review every five years, Estonia's foreign ministry reports.

The 38th meeting of the UPR on May 3-14 2021 is looking at the human rights situation in Belgium, Belau, Latvia, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Paraguay, Solomon Islands, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia and Denmark, in addition to Estonia.

Representatives of the education, justice, defense, culture, economic affairs, interior, social affairs and foreign affairs ministries make up Estonia's delegation.

The entire text of foreign minister Liimets' UN speech is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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