International law and the protection of international peace and security, including the norms-based order

International law as the guarantor of international peace and security

Deputy Permanent Representative Gert Auväärt speaking (Photo credit: UN)

As a small state, Estonia is interested in a world order based on common rules and international law – this is also the prerequisite for stable relations between states. For a small state, it is particularly important that all countries should respect international law. As a country that has survived an annexation that violated international law, Estonia considers it to be in its interest that the most important norm of the UN Charter endures – the prohibition against using armed force and threatening to use arms in relations between states. It is also important to adhere to the principle of the equality of states – the UN is founded on the principle of complete equality of all of its members.

For Estonia, the aspects of international law and its formation that are essentially linked to the birth of the Republic of Estonia and the right to self-determination hold particular importance. This is why we consider it especially crucial to follow consistently the policy of non-recognition when it comes to illegal occupations and annexations.

Following international law, including the international legal order based on the rule of law and the universal recognition of human rights is the foundation of Estonia’s foreign policy. We are convinced that protecting peace and managing conflicts can be based on respecting all aspects of the UN Charter as well as human rights and international humanitarian law. The task of the Security Council is making sure that this is respected.

Fighting impunity

The credibility of the Security Council depends on how consistent it is in responding to grave violations of international law. The Security Council holds a special role and responsibility in fighting impunity. Estonia supports the work of international investigations, international courts and arbitration, including obligating countries to cooperate with the International Criminal Court. We call on all countries and the Security Council to cooperate with the International Criminal Court because no international crime should go unpunished. Estonia maintains and expands international condemnation of crimes that are motivated by anti-humanitarian ideologies and committed by criminal regimes. We support blocking or limiting veto rights on agenda items that concern genocide or other crimes against humanity.


Estonia prioritises issues related to our region and the neighbourhood of the European Union (EU). The problems of the European continent rarely appear on the agenda of the Security Council. However, the situation in Ukraine is a special case. When it comes to the annexation of the Crimean peninsula and Russian aggression in Ukraine, Estonia and other EU states are advocating the position that is based on international law.

The consistent non-recognition of illegal occupations and annexations is the cornerstone of this policy. Estonia is the consistent voice that keeps the Security Council focused on the events of Ukraine in various ways. We are doing this out of our conviction that ensuring the territorial integrity of Ukraine and solving humanitarian problems in the occupied areas of Crimea and eastern Ukraine must be achieved peacefully and in accordance with the UN Charter and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.


Based on the principles of respect for sovereignty, borders and fundamental rights, Estonia as a member of the Security Council will keep the Security Council members focused on ensuring the territorial integrity of Georgia and implementing the cease-fire. Military reconstruction and restricting the freedom of movement and other fundamental freedoms in the occupied territories of Georgia prevent a peaceful resolution of the situation.