Ladies and Gentlemen,
I address this assembly today for my tenth and last time. The first time I spoke here I addressed climate change and conflict, refugees, and – what was apparently a first at the General Assembly – cyber attacks as the continuation of policy by other means. So the issues are largely the same, only the urgency we sense has ratcheted up.
Certainly the world was more stable then, before the economic crisis, the migration crisis; current conflicts in the wider Middle East or Russia's aggression against Georgia and Ukraine; before the war on truth and facts that seems to have taken over in many places. Despite our concerns at the time, we lived in a world more stable, where optimism was not yet naiveté. Today, in too many parts of the world, we find a conflict either emerging, raging or frozen. Terrorism, always a scourge, dominates our daily headlines in all parts of the world.
Not all of today's conflicts and crises could have been prevented. Yet the effect of many could have been mitigated had we acted sooner, had the proper mechanisms to resolve them been in place. When I addressed this assembly in the wake of Russia's invasion in Georgia in 2008, I warned not to apply international law selectively. International law had been clearly violated, yet little was done. Six years later, in 2014, we saw a repeat performance in Ukraine. Part of a sovereign state was annexed, part turned into a warzone. For the first time since World War II borders in Europe had been changed through use of force. The prohibition on the use of force to change borders lies at the heart of the UN Charter. It was blatantly violated and yet the UN could not make a difference. Russia's aggression in Ukraine continues. Territories of Ukraine and Georgia remain occupied by a foreign military, frozen conflicts remain in Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria.
The President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, paid a visit to the former Leonia High School in New Jersey, which he attended as a student between 1968 and 1972.
"Today, in too many parts of the world, we find a conflict either emerging, raging or frozen. Just as we need international law [to cope with conflicts], we also need the mechanisms to enforce it. Unless the UN starts to do more, it will, in time, lose its relevance," said President Toomas Hendrik Ilves last night in his address at the General Debate of the 71st United Nations General Assembly.
"The implementation of information technology solutions may contribute to the development of democracy and economy. Estonia focuses on information technology assistance to the eastern European partners of the European Union and has established good co-operation with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova," said President Toomas Hendrik Ilves at a fringe event dedicated to e-governance and transparent public services, which was jointly organised by Estonia, Georgia, the Republic of Korea and the UN Development Programme within the opening week of the 71st UN General Assembly.