H.E. MS KRISTIINA OJULAND
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
57TH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS
NEW YORK, 20 SEPTEMBER 2002
Honourable Mr. President,
Honourable Mr. Secretary General,
Let me begin by welcoming the United Nations' new member, Switzerland - who has always been devoted to the cause of the UN and has now finally decided to join us.
I look forward to welcoming East-Timor as the newest member of the organization in the very near future.
Mr. President, allow me to congratulate you for your election.
Today I would like to address three subjects of major concern for our globalizing world: the struggle against terrorism, human trafficking, and sustainable development.
A year ago today, the whole world was still recoiling from the horrendous terrorist attacks in the United States. Immediately after the terror attacks, most states, including Estonia, and almost all international organisations, expressed their solidarity with the United States.
We also associated ourselves with the North Atlantic Council's statement of September 12, 2001, which invoked Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, as well as with relevant European Union statements and undertakings.
Estonia is actively participating in the International Coalition to combat terrorism. We have contributed a Search and Rescue Team to the United States lead operation "Enduring Freedom". Our highly trained explosives detection dog team is presently serving in Afghanistan alongside the forces of the other countries, which are helping to restore order in that war-torn land.
We appreciate the noteworthy role of the United Nations and its Security Council in the universal campaign against terrorism. We fully recognise the importance of preventive measures and further standard setting in this field. To date, not a single crime that could be classified as terrorism has been committed in Estonia. However, let me assure you, that Estonia will continue to make all efforts necessary to fulfil its role in this ongoing quest for comprehensive international security.
Indeed, I can announce for the record that Estonia has ratified all the relevant United Nations conventions and has promptly presented reports to the appropriate parties about the implementation of the various Security Council resolutions.
We are confident that truly joint efforts, which make use of the input of all states, will eventually enable the international community to make remarkable progress in the global struggle against terrorism, In this regard, co-operation to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is of particular significance, since, sooner or later, terrorists might actually gain access to these ghastly tools of doom.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, the United Nations faces the challenge of upholding its authority. For the sake of our future, and the prestige and relevancy of the United Nations, it is essential that the UN does not shy away from reacting effectively and decisively when confronted with real and formidable dangers. Full and unconditional implementation of UN Security Council resolutions is obligatory for all UN members, just as is the effective enforcement of these resolutions.
Therefore, we value highly the decisiveness of the international community to implement the resolutions dealing with Iraq. Estonia supports the Secretary General's further efforts to obtain Iraq's compliance with the Security Council resolutions. The return of the UN weapons inspectors to Iraq is just a beginning, further acts will have to follow.
The possible results of international indecisiveness and appeasement are well illustrated by the history of the League of Nations, which disappeared from the international arena, just as did some of its member states, including my homeland, Estonia. The result was an international conflagration that left a large part of the civilized world in ruins. The very ruins upon which the United Nations Organization was founded. This taught us all a very essential lesson -- inaction can often be much more disastrous than action.
Mr, Secretary General,
Another important issue, which deserves to be touched upon here, is human trafficking, and in particular, the trafficking in women.
Recently, the Estonian Government acceded three additional protocols to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime, among them the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking of People, Especially Women and Children. In June 2001, at the WoMen and Democracy conference in Lithuania, the Nordic and Baltic ministers of gender equality (and later also the ministers of justice), decided to launch a joint Nordic-Baltic information campaign against the trafficking in women.
The aim of the campaign that will continue at least until the beginning of 2003, is to turn the general public's attention to the problems of prostitution and trafficking in people, and to initiate public discussion about the problems surrounding the issue of trafficking in women. The joint campaign is being carried out simultaneously in the eight Nordic and Baltic countries, with all relevant institutions concentrating, throughout this year, on the matter of how best to combat this problem. We hope that we will soon to have some concrete proposals for drafting amendments to appropriate national legislation.
But the problem of trafficking in women is a part of the broader issues related to women -such as women's position in society, their participation in the decision-making process, and so on. To discuss all these topics in depth, and to highlight women's role in democratic societies, Estonia is hosting a major international conference, WoMen and Democracy, in
February 2003. I sincerely hope that this conference will help to further the cause of women's rights.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Another crucial issue on the global agenda, and the last topic of my presentation, is development co-operation and sustainable development.
Having participated in the Monterrey discussions, and in the wake of the Johannesburg conference, I would like to emphasize, that the most important factor for sustained and sustainable development is to have a clear national goal and a roadmap for achieving it. Estonia is in the process of drafting a specific sustainable development strategy, a process involving the co-operation of both civil society and the private sector.
Estonia acknowledges the problem of environmental deterioration, and we have taken action to tackle it. Among many other international and regional agreements concerning the environment, Estonia has ratified the Kyoto protocol and we will do our best to fully implement the decisions made in Johannesburg.
Since the successful implementation of recent international decisions depends largely on the concerted action of the various parties, communication and access to information are becoming key issues. Bridging the digital divide between the haves and have-nots is essential if we want all countries to equally benefit from globalization. Thanks to our rapid rate of progress, Estonia has even been able to support development in various other countries.
The creation of an E-governance Academy in Estonia, as a co-operative effort involving the Estonian government, the United Nations Development Program, and the Open Society Institute, is, for instance, a significant step towards bridging the digital gap with countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia. The Academy will also be open to other interested regions. The Academy will be drawing on the experiences gained in various differing environments, thereby providing a variety of knowledge that will enable participants to choose or create a solution best applicable to their particular situation. Among other things, this project demonstrates the synergy that can be created from co-operation between governments, international organizations, and NGOs.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today I have brought up some issues on the global agenda, all of which have been discussed at length at recent international meetings and conferences. These discussions have provided us with useful signposts, agreements and decisions. Now it is time to implement them.
Thank you very much.