Estonia at the 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent

From 9-12 December, at the 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, which is held every four years, both Estonian delegations – the government of Estonia as well as the Estonian Red Cross – participated actively. The government’s delegation was led by the Foreign Ministry’s Undersecretary for Legal and Consular Affairs Erki Kodar, and the Red Cross delegation was headed by General Coordinator Kristi Rillo. In the general statement, delivered by Erki Kodar, Estonia stressed it was important to comply with and strengthen international humanitarian law (IHL). The new challenges we are facing in modern conflicts include the growing use of cyber instruments. Estonia emphasised that IHL also applied in cyberspace.

Estonia also had the honour of delivering a keynote speech at the Spotlight session on Humanitarian Action in the Digital Era, which was part of the second Commission of the Conference “Shifting Vulnerabilities”, where different new challenges were addressed. Undersecretary Kodar shared Estonia’s digitalisation success story and suggested how this good practice could be applied in the humanitarian setting. Humanitarian organisations are interested in how to identify people in need and how to improve data collection, management and privacy in order to create more services for those in need and to facilitate their access to those services.

Luukas Ilves, Head of Strategy for the Guardtime company, joined the panel “Regulation, Ethics and Accountability in Data Partnerships for Humanitarian Aid.” The discussion, organised by the ICRC, convened digital and data leaders for the IOM, UNHCR, OCHA and the private sector. Luukas Ilves called on organisations to be open to public-private data partnerships, noting that these could help bring in valuable skills and data held in corporate hands. He also cautioned that humanitarian organisations needed to be upfront in defining their requirements for sensitive and personal data. Guardtime is the world’s largest enterprise blockchain company and it has ensured the data and process integrity of Estonia’s e-government systems since 2012.

Undersecretary Kodar also had a bilateral meeting with the incoming ICRC Director General Robert Mardini. Their discussion covered cooperation during Estonia’s membership at the UN Security Council.