On Friday, 1 April, leading foreign and security policy experts and diplomats as well as several foreign ministers arrived in Tallinn to discuss the impact on the UN of the war in Ukraine, the possible ways to support Ukraine in the UN, and the influence and opportunities of small countries in the UN Security Council, where Russia has veto power.
The conference “Small States in the UN Security Council: Work for Peace to Overcome the Scourge of War”, organised by the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute at the ICDS and the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will also summarise Estonia’s elected membership in the UN Security Council in 2020–2021. The conference will be opened by President Alar Karis and the guests will be greeted by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The conference will be attended by Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis and Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney and Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Ihor Zhovkva will join the conference virtually.
According to Kristi Raik, Director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine is also an attack on the UN and the world security order that its members have agreed on. “The UN Security Council, which is the core of the organisation, is currently failing to fulfil its primary mission of working for peace. At the same time, the vast majority of the world’s nations have condemned the Russian war and their pressure on the aggressor must continue,” Raik noted.
Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets emphasised the importance of discussing the UN’s role in ensuring international peace and security during Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the changed security situation, as well as the impact of the war in Ukraine on the UN and the opportunities for small countries in the new circumstances. “We see that Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council with the right to veto, is persistently hindering the adoption of necessary resolutions that would help end the war in Ukraine, which was started by Russia itself. This forces the international community to find other ways to put pressure on Russia and hold it accountable,” said Liimets.
The Foreign Minister added that as a small country, it is especially important for Estonia to stand up for international law and human rights at all times, which is why it will continue to isolate the aggressor country where possible and support Ukraine.
The situation in Ukraine is also monitored with great concern by various UN agencies and humanitarian organisations, as women and children in particular are at high risk of becoming victims of human trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation as a result of the war. “With the conference, we wish to draw attention to the fact that Russia’s trampling over international law and the UN Charter is a threat to all people and nations, regardless of their location on the map,” the Foreign Minister emphasised.
Also arriving in Tallinn will be Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the democratic movement in Belarus, Richard Gowan, UN Director of the International Crisis Group think tank, and Karin Landgren, Executive Director of the Security Council Report think tank.
Former President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid will talk to UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Women Deputy Executive Director Åsa Regnér about the situation for women and girls in armed conflict. Estonian Ambassador to the United Nations Sven Jürgenson will summarise Estonia’s elected membership in the UN Security Council.