Paet puts stress on human rights

  • 2011-11-24
  • From wire reports

Strengthen the rule of law, says Urmas Paet.

TALLINN - Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet discussed the European Union’s new development cooperation policy during his meeting with European Commissioner Andris Piebalgs in Brussels, reports LETA. Paet stated that Estonia would like for the new European Union development cooperation policy to take advantage of the member states’ transition and reform experiences.
“It would give added value to development aid,” he confirmed.

Paet said that development co-operation should be made more conditional and should take into consideration developments in the human rights sector. “Human rights developments in partner countries should be taken into consideration more than before, including changes in the justice and legal systems,” he added.

Foreign Minister Paet stated that the protection and promotion of human rights is one of Estonia’s fundamental values as well as one of its foreign policy priorities. According to Paet, human rights have become a more and more important topic in relation to other foreign and security policy issues, such as the developments in North Africa.
This is why Estonia is a candidate to become a member of the UN Human Rights Council, he says. “Membership in the UN Human Rights Council would give Estonia the opportunity to participate more profoundly in the discussion on human rights issues. Therefore, Estonia has proposed its candidacy to become a member of the UN Human Rights Council for the 2013-2015 period,” said the foreign minister.

Paet added that Estonia will continue to give particular attention to promoting the rights of women and children and indigenous peoples and the protection of the freedom of expression. “Over the years Estonia has paid particular attention to these priorities when promoting human rights in both international organizations as well as in bilateral relations, such as development aid projects in Afghanistan, Georgia and other development cooperation partner countries,” he said.

The foreign minister stated that Estonia also actively addresses human rights issues within the framework of the European Union, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the European Council. Paet noted that Estonia has increased its human rights-related cooperation in the UN year by year. Estonia was the chairman of the Consultative Committee of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) from 2007-2009. An Estonian expert was a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues from 2005-2007 as well as 2010-2013. From 2011-2014 an Estonian expert is on the monitoring committee for the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Paet stated that Estonia has been making regular voluntary donations through the UN to promote human rights, including the rights of women, children, and indigenous peoples, for more than ten years.
The donations have gone to support the activities of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF, the UN Development Program, UN Women, the UN Girls’ Education Initiative, and the UN Fund for Indigenous Populations.

Paet and Piebalgs also discussed the European Union’s development cooperation activities in Central Asia. The Estonian minister stated that more attention than before should be given to the development of rule of law and to strengthening the capability and impartiality of courts and the justice system in Central Asian countries.