Estonia handing over UN Security Council presidency to France

  • 2020-06-01
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Estonia's first presidency of the UN Security Council ended on Sunday and France will be taking over the heading of the Security Council on Monday.

According to Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, Estonia successfully completed its presidency program. “The month of May put Estonia’s foreign service at the heart of crisis diplomacy during one of the greatest global crisis – we handled this challenge well. Despite the complicated circumstances and novel working conditions, we attracted widespread attention and managed to bring together an unprecedented number of countries on issues important to us," Reinsalu said.

"Our capable diplomats in New York deserve particular praise, as they prepared for and led discussions on Libya, Syria, Venezuela and other regions literally from their living rooms. The pandemic-ravaged New York and the resulting teleworking arrangements forced them and their families to face unexpectedly complicated working conditions," he added.

According Reinsalu, Estonia made its digital mark on the UN with two major events -- on May 8 on European security and on May 22 on cyber stability. "We demonstrated that the video diplomacy of a period of crisis still makes it possible to bring together a large number of UN member states and thanks to smart solutions, the voice of small states can be heard by many. The event on May 8 was the largest high-level event of UN member states since the start of the coronavirus crisis, bringing together nearly 50 foreign ministers and almost 80 UN member states. On May 22, 60 states discussed issues of cyber stability as a separate topic for the first time in Security Council history,” he said.

Estonia was very serious about its responsibilities as the presidency holder. The participation of its leaders in meetings attests to that. Prime Minister Juri Ratas opened the meeting on cyber security and President Kaljulaid presented a clear message at the high-level Security Council meeting on the protection of civilians, prepared by Estonia.

Estonia also kept the impact of COVID-19 on security in focus. It is still crucial to put pressure on parties to implement ceasefires. Here, the Security Council has influence and authority. “Regrettably, the Security Council has still not come to an agreement on a resolution, which would provide support to the call made by the secretary general. We made efforts ourselves to spur on negotiations but these were not successful. As we promised, we consistently kept the Security Council focused on the impact of the pandemic -- on May 27, we organised a meeting between the Security Council and the secretary general of the UN on implementing the ceasefire,” Reinsalu explained.

Estonia's Permanent Representative to the UN Sven Jurgenson said that many colleagues have recognized Estonia for its smooth presidency. “During an unusual time, we represented a voice at the Security Council that was innovative and strove to include as many countries as possible. Our special events have already been cited as examples at various meetings and it is clear that this presidency will be remembered,” Jurgenson said.

Other important discussions led by Estonia looked at the working methods of the Security Council, the protection of civilians in conflict zones, the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and the cooperation of the European Union and the UN. All discussions were also notable for their level of expert participants. At Estonia’s invitation, the Security Council was briefed by academics from the top universities of the world, as well as the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Fernando Arias and the European Union’s High Representative Josep Borrell.