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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet in Meeting with UN Secretary-General: Ensuring Human Rights is the Joint Responsibility of All Countries in the World


In today's meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised the role of the UN and the importance of international cooperation in ensuring human rights.

According to Paet, the world has high hopes for the UN regarding the search for a solution to the Syrian civil war. "The humanitarian situation in Syria continues to be critical and in order to protect the population it is extremely necessary for the UN Security Council to reach agreement about ending the Syrian civil war," noted Paet. "The joint mission to destroy Syria's chemical weapons has progressed successfully, but we cannot forget the objective of ending the warfare in the country and reaching a peaceful solution," said the foreign minister. He added that Estonia has supported the joint mission to destroy Syria's chemical weapons with 50,000 Euros.

Foreign Minister Paet asserted that, in order to make the work of the Security Council more effective, it is essential to reform the council. "International organisations and bodies are all the more legitimate, transparent, and effective when all states have an equal opportunity to participate," he added.

At the meeting, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke about the role of the UN as a global organisation for advancing democracy and ensuring a free and secure internet. "In state governance, Estonia has successfully implemented e-solutions and introduced them to more than 60 countries in the world. The use of e-solutions and a free and secure internet increases government transparency, involvement of society in governance, and economic development and growth," said Paet. "We hope that the UN can be a partner for us in introducing e-solutions and we would like to cooperate practically with the UN Development Programme to create and develop the e-state information system applications for partner countries,” he added.

Foreign Minister Paet stressed that, as a member of the UN Human Rights Council and a founding member of the Freedom Online Coalition, Estonia takes the position that freedom of expression, just like other fundamental rights, should be guaranteed both online and offline. “We would like to cooperate closely with other countries and international initiatives that stand for these same values,” he said. Estonia is also currently the chairman of the Freedom Online Coalition and will host the annual conference of the coalition, which will be entitled “Free and Secure Internet for All” in Tallinn in the spring.

When speaking about the fight against war crimes and crimes against humanity, Paet noted that the International Criminal Court has acquired a central role in that process because of the unified efforts of many states. “At the same time, the court can only effectively complete its objective of prosecuting crimes that transcend national borders if all states follow the principles of the Rome Statute,” declared the foreign minister. He stressed that the court must be able to operate independently. “For this, states must adhere to the principles of impartial and comprehensive investigation as well as fair trial and constantly develop their capabilities in these areas. We are ready to assist other countries with providing the necessary training for officials in the judicial sector,” added Paet. The President of the Assembly of States’ Parties to the International Criminal Court is Estonian Ambassador Tiina Intelmann.

At the meeting, Paet also recognized the leadership of the UN Secretary-General in the formulation of a framework for sustainable development. “We hope that by 2015, there will be a global set of objectives which will focus on the reduction of poverty through sustainable development and a stronger connection to human rights,” said Paet. He added that Estonia places importance on the right of people to a clean environment and sustainable development. “We submitted the Let’s Do It World! global cleaning campaign for the 2013 UN Human Rights Award,” stated the foreign minister. “The non-governmental project Let’s Do It! has grown into a global trash clean-up project that is active in more than 100 countries and takes place both on land and sea. This shows that people want a clean environment and that a sustainable way of life is possible.”

Speaking of development cooperation, Paet noted that the volume of Estonia’s official development aid in 2012 was 0.11% of GDP. “We have expanded our support to the UN system,” stated the foreign minister. He added that support to Afghanistan and the Eastern Partnership states are at the heart of Estonia’s development cooperation.

Regarding humanitarian catastrophes and the situation in the Philippines, Paet said that in order to combat the effects of the typhoon Estonia immediately sent two members of Estonian Disaster Relief Team as well as equipment and technology for the creation of basecamps for humanitarian workers, and allocated 150,000 for humanitarian aid to the Philippines.

When discussing Afghanistan, Paet emphasized that the UN has a central role in the stabilisation and development of Afghanistan after 2014. “The most important thing is to increase Afghanistan’s own capacity and sense of ownership,” declared Paet. In Afghanistan, Estonia focuses on developing administrative capabilities, providing healthcare, advancing the rights of women, and promoting education for children.

According to Paet, the UN should not stop paying attention to frozen conflicts such as those in Moldova, Georgia, and Nagorno-Karabakh. “Frozen conflicts cannot become forgotten conflicts and opportunities must be found for agreements and sustainable solutions between conflict sides. In these crises, the UN’s support in aiding refugees and protecting their rights is very important,” noted Paet.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is on an official visit to Estonia with his wife Ban Soon-taek on 15-16 November. In addition to Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, the UN secretary-general also met with President of the Republic Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma, and Prime Minister Andrus Ansip.

Today, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also visited and gave a speech at Robotex 2013, the Baltic States’ largest robotics competition, which is taking place at the Tallinn University of Technology. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon both gave a speech and answered questions at Tallinn University. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Mrs Ban Soon-taek also took a tour of Tallinn’s Old Town.


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