On 1 May, Estonia will take over the presidency of the United Nations Security Council for a month; the country plans to pay particular attention to the connections between the COVID-19 pandemic and the security environment, cybersecurity, the fundamental principles of international law, including the protection of civilians and increasing the transparency of the Security Council during the crisis.
“The Security Council continues to work through the coronavirus crisis. When we became an elected member of the Security Council in January, we had no idea that in only a few months, the world would be dealing with one of the greatest crisis since the Second World War. This makes being at the head of the UN Security Council at this time an even greater responsibility, but we are ready for it,” the Estonian foreign minister, Urmas Reinsalu, said.
According to Reinsalu, the global pandemic has an impact on peace and security across the world. As the president, it is Estonia’s goal to make sure that the Security Council focuses on threats related to COVID-19. “In order to defeat the pandemic, it is crucial to support the UN secretary-general’s call for a global ceasefire, continue peacekeeping missions and ensure full access to humanitarian aid in crisis areas,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
May also marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War on European soil and on 8 May, Estonia is holding a high-level discussion to remember this event. “On that occasion, Estonia will bring countries together to remember all those who were killed, discuss the lessons of the post-war order and fundamental principles of international law, especially the prohibition of the use and threat of force. It is particularly important considering that conflicts unfortunately still exist in Europe,” Reinsalu stated.
Meeting by video
Other special events include a meeting on cybersecurity as well as a discussion on the protection of civilians, with the Estonian president, Kersti Kaljulaid, attending and the secretary-general of the UN, António Guterres, speaking.
The Security Council is currently meeting by video and the working methods of the souncil during the crisis are in particular focus. “We consider it important to ensure the maximum efficiency of the Security Council’s work even via video meetings, and the maximum availability of open meetings to the public and other UN member states,” Estonia’s permanent representative to the UN, ambassador Sven Jürgenson, noted.
The task of the UN Security Council is to uphold global peace and security. Estonia is an elected member of the Security Council in 2020 and 2021. Every month, one of the 15 members of the UN Security Council holds the presidency. The task of the president is to work as a professional partner in organising the Security Council meetings and excel at a transparent and smooth organisation of work. As the presidency rotates alphabetically, Estonia’s membership includes two presidencies: in the spring of 2020 and the summer of 2021.
Cover: Estonian delegation at the UN Security Council session hall on 7 June 2019. Photo by Eleri Ever.