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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet in Riigikogu: Human Rights Are Constant Theme in All Areas of Foreign Policy


No 58-E

In his annual address to the Riigikogu on Estonia’s foreign policy, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised that human rights and values are a constant theme in all areas of foreign policy, from security to European policy and from economics to consular issues. “Improving and protecting the human rights situation is a matter of principle for Estonia, since human rights are the cornerstone of peace, security, and sustainable development,” Paet noted. “Estonia is a global leader when it comes to personal, economic, and political freedoms, and we enjoy widespread freedom of movement. We would like to protect these rights at home and abroad, because when these rights and freedoms are guaranteed for other peoples, we benefit as well as well.”

Paet stated that Estonia is a member of the UN Human Rights Council for the first time in history. “Our priorities in the Human Rights Council are the rights of women and children, taking gender into account in conflict resolution, fighting impunity, and the rights of indigenous peoples,” Paet stated. “We also give special attention to freedom of expression and internet freedom,” he added.

The Human Rights Council helps prevent and react to conflicts and widespread violations of human rights. “This relates to our work supporting the International Criminal Court, whose Assembly of States Parties is led by an Estonian diplomat,” said the foreign minister. He added that 122 countries have already joined the Rome Statute.  “We continue to encourage more countries to join. Only this will make it possible to avoid gross crimes against humanity and hold the perpetrators responsible.”

In talking about internet freedom, the foreign minister emphasised that Estonia feels it is important to stand for human rights in the cyber environment. “This is especially important as the digital divide grows and authoritarian states seek opportunities to limit access to the internet,” said Paet. “For Estonia, it’s just as important to protect freedom of expression on the internet as it is to protect other fundamental rights and freedoms, and next year Estonia will lead the Freedom Online Coalition,” he added.

Full text of the address:

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