Estonia joined Niger, Tunisia, Vietnam and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on January 1, 2020. The country’s membership expired on December 31. This was the first time Estonia held a seat on the UNSC since joining the organization 30 years ago.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets recalled how Estonia set up its candidacy back in 2005 and how the campaign helped boost the country’s reputation.
Liimets said that Estonia managed to prove small countries can participate and successfully influence processes as part of the UNSC over the two-year period. Those involved were motivated by the fact one can effect change on the Security Council. “Counties that have served on the UNSC reapply for membership,” Liimets pointed out.
Cybersecurity became a core topic of Estonia’s membership. Estonia’s seat on the council coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic presented Estonia a change to showcase its digital skills and offer the UNSC new experience and tools for effective virtual management in difficult situations.
Liimets highlighted as one of Estonia’s chief achievements bringing the cybersecurity topic to the UNSC in June of last year, adding that cybersecurity staying on the agenda is important. The foreign minister said that cybersecurity is of critical importance to Estonia and it is crucial for its significance to be recognized internationally. She also referred to Estonia as one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world.
“Estonia was a bold member who dared take initiative. Estonia has reinforced allied relations and found new partners all over the world,” Liimets said. Estonia was also the UNSC penholder for Afghanistan in 2021 and focused on events in Ukraine.
Ambassador Sven Jürgenson commended Estonia’s bold and active membership team. He said that while small countries sport greater legitimacy when dealing with certain topics, values need to be upheld.
Jürgenson also emphasized how Estonia managed to capitalize on the pandemic in terms of technical capacity and highlighted cybersecurity being officially discussed at a UNSC meeting for the first time as an achievement. The ambassador said that Estonia needs to consider how to put its UNSC experience to effective use.
Liimets remarked that even though Estonia’s official membership is over, Estonia will join UNSC statements that coincide with our position until June and continue to monitor the situation.
“Our main activities are done and we are looking to the future now,” Liimets noted. Estonia is seeking a place on the UN Human Rights Council in 2026-2028.