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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Protection and Promotion of Human Rights is Part of Estonia’s Identity

14.12.2011

No. 412-E

At his meeting in New York with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that the promotion and protection of human rights is a part of Estonia’s identity and foreign policy. “We highly value the work of the UN high commissioner for human rights in protecting human rights globally,” Paet noted. “In a complicated situation the leadership role of the high commissioner is of vital importance. For example, it was necessary in getting widespread support for the Syria resolution at the extraordinary session of the UN Human Right Council,” he stated.

The foreign minister emphasised that the generally recognised principles and norms of international law are a steadfast part of Estonia’s domestic policy and legal system. “We have joined most international and regional human rights agreements,” said the foreign minister. “In order to strengthen our international human rights profile and have a chance to further promote the issues that are important to us, Estonia is a candidate to become a member of the UN Human Rights Council from 2013-2015,” he stated. Paet added that currently Estonia is already actively participating in the work of many of the UN’s human rights bodies. “For example, Estonia is currently a member of the UN Economic and Social Council, Commission on the Status of Women, Council of the UN Development Programme, UNICEF Executive Board, and the Executive Board of the UN Entity for Gender Equality. In other UN activities, as well, Estonia continues to place a special focus on the rights of women, children, and indigenous peoples,” he added.

During the meeting, Paet also emphasised the importance of internet freedom. “Freedom of virtual expression is also a human right,” he asserted. “The critical events that took place in Northern Africa this year have demonstrated how information technology can play a major role in promoting democracy and human rights. The availability of the internet must therefore be supported and expanded,” he added.

Photos from the meeting: http://www.flickr.com/photos/estonian-foreign-ministry

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