UN Human Rights Council 45th Session – Item 2 – General Debate – Intervention by ESTONIA – 15 September 2020

Thank you Madame President,

Distinguished High Commissioner,

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

We wish to 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 to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, we have witnessed that the focus in many countries has moved to human rights restrictions.

There are also political regimes that deny both the pandemic and basic human rights. One of them is located at the geographical centre in Europe – Belarus. The presidential election was neither free nor fair. The Belarussian authorities have used unacceptable actions and tools to suppress peaceful protesters. Intimidating, imprisoning, torturing and mocking, repressions against journalists and opinion leaders, political prisoners, killed and missing people, internet shutdowns  – these are just a few keywords to describe the actions of the authorities against their citizens. Estonia highly welcomes the HRC urgent debate on Belarus later this week.

Freedom of expression and criticism of the authorities are fundamental human rights. Let me use this opportunity to stress that the methods and means used in the attack against one of the leaders of the Russian opposition and the Kremlin’s vocal critic, Alexey Navalny, can be considered a high level crime.

The fight against human rights with chemical weapons is a new and frightening level. This case requires broad international attention also from a human rights perspective.

Madam President,

Estonia, currently member of the Security Council, considers the promotion and protection of human rights to be a crucial tool for prevention of conflicts.  Human rights violations are at the same time an early warning sign of potential conflicts.

At these precarious times, we need to defend human rights and freedoms even more vigorously and work together in this regard. Thereby we should stress the utmost importance of involving civil society and supporting the work of human rights defenders all around the world.

Thank you!