Estonia's President Karis in New York for UN General Assembly this week

President Alar Karis at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York September 20-21, 2022.
President Alar Karis at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York September 20-21, 2022. Source: Office of the President

President Alar Karis is in New York this week, where he is attending the high-level opening week of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The Estonian head of state's primary focus at the UNGA this year will be on UN Security Council reforms, global partners as well as support for Ukraine.

At the heart of Karis' meetings and addresses in New York this week will be the need to reform the UN Security Council (UNSC) in order to remove voting rights from aggressor states, continued support for Ukraine as a victim of Russia's aggression as well as enhanced cooperation with countries situated further from the transatlantic axis, the Office of the President said in a press release Monday.

Karis will address the UNGA on Estonia's behalf late Wednesday evening Estonian time.

In his address, he will raise the explicit need to reform the UN Security Council and amend its working methods regarding veto rights in the face of Russia's ongoing war of aggression in Ukraine.

The Council's inability to resolve conflicts and Russia's abuse of its veto right are making it impossible for the Council to fulfill its remit, which is to prevent and bring an end to conflicts and to guarantee lasting peace, the Office of the President noted.

Estonia has always championed a world order based on international law and where the same rules apply to everyone, Karis said, highlighting that at the heart of that is respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as promoting the rule of law and preventing impunity.

"The reality we are faced with is one of a world in which Russia is flagrantly violating all of these rules," the Estonian president continued. "The UN Security Council is responsible for global peace and security, but Russia's status as a permanent member and its abuse of veto rights renders the Council incapable of responding to the Kremlin's aggression and to the destruction of Ukraine and its people. We must find ways of extricating ourselves from this impasse. One concrete way of achieving this is for countries involved in a dispute to abstain from voting, as set out in the UN Charter."

He added that as many countries consider Russia's aggression and its impact perfectly understandable, broader support for Ukraine among UN member states is not something that can be taken for granted. "More work needs to be done in this regard," he acknowledged.

President Alar Karis at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York September 20-21, 2022. Source: Office of the President

While in New York, Karis will attend the UN SDG Summit and Leaders' Dialogue, which will focus on science, technology and innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Climate Ambition Summit and the U.S.-Baltic Strategic Investment Summit.

He will also be speaking at a UNSC public debate on Ukrainian peace and security, and Estonia is organizing a high-level side meeting with the Ukrainian, American, Belgian and EU delegations at which Karis will be giving the opening address. The latter meeting will focus on the situation of Ukrainian children in Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine as well as on the forced deportations of children, to which Estonia has consistently drawn international attention.

The Estonian president will be meeting this week with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, participating in Estonian-organized discussions between the Baltic and Polish heads of state, meeting with President of the 78th Session of the General Assembly Dennis Francis and attending a reception being held by the Clinton Global Initiative. He will also attend a number of bilateral meetings with other heads of state, focusing on global partners, to discuss cooperation within international organizations as well as support for Ukraine.

While in New York, Karis will be taking part in a World Cleanup Day (WCD) event taking place in parallel with the UNGA. Estonia is lobbying for WCD — an annual event and social action program which traces its roots back to the Estonian Let's Do It! campaign — to be declared one of the UN's International Days.

The Estonian president will also attend a reception hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden and, on the invitation of his Slovak and Czech counterparts Zuzana Caputova and Petr Pavel, take part in an event to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment and UN membership of Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The head of state will be returning to Estonia on Friday.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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