From 1 May, Estonia will hold the presidency of the UN Security Council for a month. Estonia plans to pay particular attention to the connections between the COVID-19 pandemic and the security environment, cybersecurity, the fundamental principles of international law, including the protection of civilians, and increasing the transparency of the Security Council during the crisis.
“The Security Council continues to work through the coronavirus crisis. When we became an elected member of the Security Council in January, we had no idea that in only a few months, the world would be dealing with one of the greatest crisis since the Second World War. This makes being at the head of the UN Security Council at this time an even greater responsibility but we are ready for it,” Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said.
According to the foreign minister, the global pandemic has an impact on peace and security across the world. As the President, it is our goal to make sure that the Security Council focuses on threats related to COVID-19. In order to defeat the pandemic, it is crucial to support the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire, continue peacekeeping missions and ensure full access to humanitarian aid in crisis areas.
May also marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War on European soil and on 8 May, Estonia is holding a high-level discussion to remember this event. “On that occasion, Estonia will bring countries together to remember all those who were killed, discuss the lessons of the post-war order and fundamental principles of international law, especially the prohibition of the use and threat of force. It is particularly important considering that conflicts unfortunately still exist in Europe,” Foreign Minister Reinsalu said.
Other special events include a meeting on cybersecurity, opened by Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, as well as a discussion on the protection of civilians, with President Kaljulaid attending and Secretary-General of the UN António Guterres speaking.
The Security Council is currently meeting by video and the working methods of the Security Council during the crisis are in particular focus. “We consider it important to ensure the maximum efficiency of the Security Council’s work even via video meetings, and the maximum availability of open meetings to the public and other UN member states,” Estonia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Sven Jürgenson explained.
Today, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu will give an overview of Estonia’s priorities at the cabinet meeting and the following press conference.
The task of the UN Security Council is to uphold global peace and security. Estonia is an elected member of the Security Council in 2020 and 2021. Every month, one of the 15 members of the UN Security Council holds the presidency. The task of the president is to work as a professional partner in organising the Security Council meetings, and excel at a transparent and smooth organisation of work. As the presidency rotates alphabetically, Estonia’s membership includes two presidencies: in the spring of 2020 and the summer of 2021.
Special events during the Estonian Presidency
Friday 8 May
High-level meeting ’75 Years since the end of the Second World War in Europe: lessons for the prevention of international crimes in the future, the responsibility of the Security Council’
The high-level discussion remembers the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War on European soil. The event includes talks on the lessons of post-war world order as well as future challenges. Discussions will also cover the current security situation and conflicts in Europe. The meeting is moderated and introduced by Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu. Briefers: Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, Professor of Yale University Timothy Snyder and a representative of the European Union. The event will be livestreamed.
Friday 15 May
An open video session on the working methods of the Security Council
This year, the annual discussion on working methods is held at a historical time with temporary rules of procedure. Estonia is the Vice-Chair of the working group on the UN’s working methods. The discussion focuses on ensuring that the work of the Council is as similar to physical meetings as possible, as well as on ensuring a greater efficiency and transparency of the Security Council outside the crisis.
Friday 22 May
Informal meeting on cyber stability and conflict prevention
The meeting focuses on conflict prevention, and ensuring a stable and peaceful cyberspace. The focus of the meeting is on raising the awareness of members of the UN Security Council about cyber threats against international peace and security, and the mechanisms supporting and regulating responsible state behaviour on the global, regional and national level. The meeting will allow states to share their experiences on the application of international law and cyber norms in cyberspace, on which regional cooperation formats have been successful in ensuring cyber stability, and on identifying shortcomings in dealing with cyber threats.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas will make an opening statement. Confirmed briefers include Izumi Nakamitsu, the High Representative for Disarmament, and James Lewis, the Director for Technology Policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Wednesday 27 May
High-level open meeting on the protection of civilians
Member states will discuss the Secretary-General’s annual report on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts. In line with Estonia’s priorities, the discussions will focus on compliance with international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights norms, as well as new threats, such as the impact of COVID-19. The Estonian national statement is made by Kersti Kaljulaid. Briefers include Secretary-General of the UN António Guterres and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer; we will also invite a representative of the civil society as a briefer.
Thursday 28 May
Open meeting on the cooperation of the UN and the European Union
The meeting will cover the cooperation of the UN and the European Union, present the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union and look at current crises what both the EU as well as the UN are helping to resolve. In recent years, cooperation between the two organisations in peace missions and crisis management has become increasingly important. The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell will brief the Security Council.