President Toomas Hendrik Ilves says there needs to be unconditional global support for human rights, freedom of speech and respect for international law.
TALLINN - At the 65th session of the UN General Assembly Debate in New York on Sept. 24, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves spoke out on what was described as pressing global matters, namely, promoting peace and security, humanitarian affairs, and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. Support for the rebuilding of Afghanistan is high on Estonia’s agenda, while achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was called an “attainable reality.”
In his address to the UN General Assembly, Ilves emphasized Estonia’s role in rebuilding Afghanistan, Estonia’s unconditional support to the complete independence and territorial integrity of Georgia and called upon the countries of the world to join forces in the fight against cyber terrorism.
According to the president, Estonia sees its direct participation in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, above all, in the contribution to humanitarian operations ranging from Afghanistan to Haiti and in counseling emerging economies in the application of information technology solutions, increasing the effectiveness of the state. “For my country, Estonia, the development of ICT has been a crucial engine of economic development and modernization throughout the last 20 years. This is why, today, our experts advise governments on ICT solutions in many parts of the world,” said Ilves.
The Estonian head of state called upon the countries of the world to unconditionally respect human rights, including the freedom of speech and self-expression and to respect the rules of international law that preclude the jeopardizing of the independence of any state by a threat to use force or by using force. “For the past ten years, Estonia had contributed to the peacekeeping budget at a voluntarily enhanced rate, and it will continue to do so. All member states equally shared responsibility to apply principles enshrined in the charter, including refraining from any threat or use of force against any state,” he added.
According to Ilves, “Estonia reiterates its firm support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and stability of Georgia. Humanitarian issues, in particular ensuring the safe and dignified return of refugees and IDPs, and wider access to the conflict zone, especially for humanitarian workers and international observers, need to be seriously addressed now.
Furthermore, the free movement of people living within the internationally recognized borders of Georgia must be ensured,” said the Estonian head of state. “Without justice, efforts to ensure sustainable peace might easily be wiped out.”
Ilves drew the world’s attention to the fact that confronting the security challenges of the 21st century depends on successful cooperation among all states, international and regional organizations. “Facing down cyber threats is no exception. Estonia urges broad cross-border and cross-sector capacity-building in protecting critical information infrastructures,” he said.
“The necessity of closer cooperation among states, between the private sector and civil society, is critical when we realize that in case of a cyber attack, all traditional security measures may be rendered useless. I can assure you that all-encompassing preparedness will pay off when a real crisis strikes,” the Estonian head of state added.
On the development of information and communication technology, the president stated that technology had been a crucial engine of economic development and modernization for Estonia over the past 20 years. Its experts advised governments on info tech solutions in many parts of the world and, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Open Society Institute, had established an academy to assist developing country governments in its use.
In conclusion, the Estonian president said that as a European Union member, Estonia also believed the Lisbon Treaty enhanced the Union’s ability to secure peace, stability and prosperity for all. With that shared commitment, Estonia expects the vital role of the United Nations to be further reinforced.
Former president of Switzerland, Joseph Deiss, was elected as chairman at the UN General Assembly Debate. Speaking at the opening, he indicated that he intends to make every effort to ensure that the work session is effective. “Very often we hear the view that the UN and its General Assembly did not have the real opportunities necessary to act and that it generally just talks shop. But I hope that starting with the 65th session we will demonstrate the opposite,” said Deiss.
Stressing that the session began “with a heavy agenda,” Deiss highlighted three broad areas of focus: to ensure the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) be achieved; to reinstate the United Nations and the General Assembly at the center of global governance; and to promote sustainable development. “Our efforts in the three areas will make essential contributions towards peace and security, international cooperation and friendship between peoples,” Deiss said.