Thank you, Mister President.
At the outset, I would like to offer our condolences to Niger for the devastating terrorist attacks that took place over the weekend in Western Niger.
I join others in thanking you for organizing today’s debate, as well as our esteemed briefers for sharing their insights. Estonia attaches great importance to this topic, and, in particular, preventing conflicts from happening in the first place. The Security Council should treat the causes, and not only the symptoms, when violence has broken out. For this to be achieved successfully, it is important to take a holistic view, acknowledging the interdependence of security and sustainable development. Estonia recognizes this link, and we are proud to belong to the European Union, which is the world’s largest donor, with the largest recipient continent being Africa. There is a lot to achieve by working closely together with regional organizations, such as the African Union and IGAD, to address the drivers of fragility.
I would like to highlight three elements that Estonia considers important in the context of fragility.
Firstly, climate change is not only exacerbating existing conflicts, but also contributing to the on-set of new ones. Estonia is of the view that it is the responsibility of this Council to take climate-change related threats to peace and security seriously. We hope that in 2021 the Security Council is finally able to adopt a thematic resolution on climate and security; to mandate the Secretary-General to report on the impacts of climate change on international security; and also provide robust mandates to the relevant missions the Council authorizes. For instance, UNSOM’s dedicated climate expert is a good start, but we need to build on this example, as much more needs to be done in this regard.
Secondly, rule of law, access to justice and human rights are essential for maintaining peace and security in fragile contexts. As the Secretary-General has emphasized in his “Call to Action for Human Rights”, there is a well-documented correlation between a society’s enjoyment of and commitment to human rights and its resilience to crisis. At the same time, in order for communities to be peaceful and resilient, it is critical to acknowledge past and present violations, and to have redress to victims. State capacities also need to be strengthened to address intercommunal conflicts and promote reconciliation efforts. The Security Council should pay due attention to all of these aspects in the relevant mandates it authorizes.
Thirdly, an important antidote to fragile contexts is inclusivity. It is vital to include persons belonging to marginalized groups, especially, women and girls. In the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic, the world is sliding in the progress we have been making to achieve gender equality, and we simply cannot afford to let that happen. Data suggests that gender-equal societies are on average more peaceful. Equally, we know that peace agreements are more lasting, when women are substantially involved. Additionally, there must be more effort to win the trust of young population. This Council must ensure that all the relevant mandates it authorizes, are robust in these aspects.
Given the unique role of the Security Council in the world, the Council has the responsibility to constantly adapt to the changing times. This includes being open to new topics that we now consider to be part of peace and security; being willing to employ new tools to tackle emerging issues; and reviewing its current practices as to make sure that these are the most effective. Estonia welcomes the new members to the Council, and we are looking forward to a fruitful year ahead, seeing where we together can make a difference in the work of the Council. Let us all step up our game in 2021 in making sure that the Security Council is an institution that provides hope to the world, prevents people from suffering and offers solutions to the most urgent issues that the humankind is facing.