Statement by Ambassador at Large for Human Rights Ms Minna-Liina Lind at UNGA side-event “Building Back Better: Strengthen the UN, Prevent Atrocities and Uphold Human Rights”

We would like to thank Costa Rica, Denmark and Qatar, as well as the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect for organising today’s high-level meeting. We thank the honourable panellists, the Secretary-General and the ministers, for their statements.

Estonia stands firmly behind the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P). We welcome the latest report of the Secretary General on R2P from July focusing on gendered aspects of mass atrocity crimes. We agree that advancing gender equality and women’s equal and meaningful participation is fundamental.

The current pandemic leaves many countries and communities in an increasingly fragile state, possibly fuelling conflicts. As part of “building back better”, ensuring secure and more wide use of ICTs is vital. Estonia together with Singapore recently launched a Global Declaration on the Digital Response to COVID-19 that puts forward the prospect that we will emerge from the crisis stronger and better equipped by using innovative digital solutions and working together as a global community.

The Security Council plays a vital role in enacting the R2P. At the same time, as an elected member, we acknowledge that the Council continues to fail to live up to the standard of providing security to all people. The Council has been in effective deadlock in the case of many situations where accountability is urgently needed, including in Syria and also Myanmar. In order to more effectively protect populations everywhere, we need to increase support to initiatives that aim to deter the use of veto especially in cases of atrocity crimes.

Prevention and prosecution of atrocity crimes is also clearly linked to the mandate of the International Criminal Court that Estonia fully supports. Furthermore, accountability mechanisms such as the IIIM, the IIMM (“Myanmar Mechanism”) and other commissions of inquiry and fact finding missions play a central role in collecting evidence and uncovering crimes. The work of the mechanisms needs to be taken into account also by the Security Council. We further commend national initiatives such as the recent announcement by the Dutch government to hold the Syrian regime accountable for gross human rights violations under the Convention against Torture.

Finally, we point to the blatant disregard of human rights in many parts of the world. In terms of early warning and prevention, Estonia sees that the situation of human rights in Belarus requires close attention of the international community and the scrutiny of UN bodies and mechanisms. Estonia joins the Special Rapporteur on Belarus in recalling that it is the responsibility of the Belarusian state to prevent, investigate and punish the crimes related to the brutal repression. We, individually and collectively need to make sure that no perpetrator would be confident that they would not be prosecuted because of prevailing lawlessness and impunity.

Thank you.