“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 1 (1948)
It was agreed more than 60 years ago, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
adopted in the year 1948, that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Many humanitarian conferences have followed this first step in the creation of international norms for human rights that have defined the rights of every individual: both political and civic rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. These rights are undivided, inalienable and universal. The protection and development of human rights contributes to the struggle for global peace and security and guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of all people.
Estonia's human rights policy
Expansion of the space that values the principles of human rights, democracy, rule of law, and advancement of international law is one of Estonia’s five priorities in foreign policy. Estonia focuses especially on protecting the rights of women, children and indigenous people, because these groups are often more vulnerable than others and are more likely to fall victim to discrimination. Estonia also considers internet freedom to be an undivided part of human rights, as there exists regions the world where freedom of expression, incl. on the Internet, is censored. Another priority for Estonia is the fight against impunity, incl. by aiding the work of the International Criminal Court, to prevent massive violations of human rights and commitment of serious crimes. We work towards developing these rights both through international organisations as well as through bilateral relations.
Estonia's human rights activities in the world
Estonia’s bilateral relations as well as membership in international organisations have created a wide array of possibilities for Estonia to develop and protect human rights and to address the violation of human rights. Estonia is actively involved in human rights through participation in the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy, the UN, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe. We are traditionally active in several bodies dealing with human rights: Estonia is a member of the UN Human Rights Council (2013-15), a member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (2011-15), and a board member of the United Nations Children's Fund (2011-13). The Estonian diplomat Tiina Intelmann is the President of the Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court. In addition, Estonian experts are members of various forums, committees and workgroups. Estonia enforces its human rights priorities in the world via bilateral relations and development cooperation projects.
Human rights conventions and Estonia's reports
Estonia is a party in the primary human rights conventions of the UN and is dedicated to defending and developing human rights and universal freedoms both in Estonia as well as through membership in international organisations and via bilateral relations.