UN Human Rights Council 44th Session – Item 2: High Commissioner on the human rights impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – 1 July 2020 – Intervention by ESTONIA

Thank you Madame President.

Estonia fully aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.

Madame President,

we wish thank the High Commissioner and her Office for showing leadership in putting human rights, democracy and the rule of law at the heart of the global response. Human rights are critical for the response and recovery from the pandemic. This virus knows no borders and multilateralism is key in addressing present and future challenges.

UN Secretary General has noted that the year 2020 was intended to be ground-breaking for gender equality. Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to roll back the limited gains of past decades and deepen pre-existing inequalities, the sharp rise in domestic violence recorded by World Health Organization is deeply concerning.  Madame President, despite the temporary setback of the pandemic, we must not forget the aims established before that.

We should use the anniversaries of the Beijing Declaration and of the Security Council resolution 1325 in order to make tangible progress in the field and reject any attempts to undermine the agreed normative framework, including as to the sexual and reproductive health and rights.

As a member of the UN’s Security Council, Estonia stresses the promotion and protection of human rights as a crucial tool for conflict prevention. Thereby, we put special emphasis on the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls as well as on the need to support and protect the human rights defenders.

Madame President,

With or without the pandemic, internet must remain free, open, reliable and secure and any government-induced internet shutdowns must end. Estonia is a member of the Freedom Online Coalition and of the Media Freedom Coalition and we have been vocal in advocating for freedom of expression both online as well as offline. We are glad to note that in many cases protesters and human rights defenders around the world are leveraging the internet to organize online and to stand up for their rights.

To conclude,

Estonia highly welcomed the presentation of the “Call to action on Human Rights” by the Secretary General this fall. Madam High Commissioner, what would be (in your view) the next steps in ensuring the full implementation of the plan and how the Member States can best contribute?

Thank you!