Ministers’ Deputies

Information documents

CM/Inf(2016)13          6 May 2016


Priorities of the Estonian Chairmanship of
the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
(May – November 2016)


The principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and the advancement of international law are valued as an important part of Estonian foreign policy. Estonia holds the Council of Europe in high regard as an organisation for creating norms and standards. It has considerably influenced our country’s internal politics and legislation since our accession in 1993. In our second chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, we aim to reflect in the Council of Europe the same spirit of leadership and inspiration, which our country has benefited from in the past 23 years. We will focus on delivering concrete results in the following three areas: human rights and rule of law on the Internet, gender equality and children’s rights.

In addition to these priorities, we will continue working to advance in other areas of political importance for the Council of Europe, as well as on the further improvement of the Council’s co-operation with other international organisations. We shall also pursue priorities developed jointly with the outgoing Bulgarian chairmanship and the future Cypriot chairmanship.

1.         Human rights and the rule of law on the Internet

In times of fast development of information communication technologies and the accompanying impact on the lives of most individuals in Europe, the protection of human rights and the rule of law online are needed more than ever. In this respect, the Council of Europe’s instruments, its unique mandate of core values, its extensive network of State and non-State actors within and beyond Europe, and its potential to develop agile, cross-fertilised working methods are of considerable added value. In the framework of our chairmanship, we will work together with all partners to ensure the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the online environment, contribute to the implementation of the Council of Europe Internet Governance Strategy (2016-2019), and promote relevant Council of Europe standards.

To this end, Estonia will:

-           support the EuroDIG 2016 Conference (Brussels, 9-10 June 2016). Launched initially with the substantial input of the Council of Europe, EuroDIG has become the main European platform for informal and inclusive discussion and exchange on public policy issues related to Internet governance. Our aim is to bring to the attention of EuroDIG the most recent standard-setting work of the Council of Europe and its relevance for European citizens;

-           host a conference, together with Germany (OSCE Chairmanship), on Internet freedom, to be held in Strasbourg on 9 September 2016. The conference will focus on the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)5 on Internet freedom, which Estonia will be actively implementing as part of the Council of Europe’s follow-up to this instrument;

-           host the 3rd Platform Exchange on Culture and Digitisation, to be held in Tallinn on 29 and 30 September 2016, with particular focus on Big Data in the cultural field and innovative digital cultural practices for policy development. The Platform is part of the Council of Europe’s agenda to build democracy online, emanating from the Internet Governance Strategy 2016-2019;

-           host a children’s rights conference, which among other relevant topics will focus on children’s rights in the digital environment, to be held in Tallinn on 4 November 2016;

-           celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime during the annual Octopus conference (Strasbourg, 16-18 November 2016).  Estonia underlines its strong support for and commitment to the Convention as the only international treaty that addresses computer crime by harmonising national legislation, improving investigative techniques, enhancing international co-operation and providing capacity building. Estonia’s aim is to promote accession by a maximum number of countries worldwide to the Convention.

Expected outcome: Maintaining the momentum and continuity of Internet governance as a catalyst for protecting the human rights of Internet users and ensuring their digital safety and security.

2.         Gender equality

Achieving gender equality is central to the protection of human rights, the functioning of democracy, and respect for the rule of law, economic growth and sustainability. The Council of Europe’s Transversal Programme on Gender Equality aims, through the Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017, to increase the impact and visibility of gender equality standards, supporting their implementation in member States through a variety of measures, including gender mainstreaming and action in a number of priority areas. The overall goal of the Strategy is to achieve the advancement and empowerment of women and the effective realisation of gender equality in Council of Europe member states through activities around five strategic objectives: 1. combating gender stereotypes and sexism; 2. preventing and combating violence against women; 3. guaranteeing equal access of women to justice; 4. achieving balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making; 5. achieving gender mainstreaming in all policies and measures.

A high-level stocktaking conference (working title: “Are we there yet? Assessing progress, inspiring action – The Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017”) will be held in Tallinn on 30 June and 1 July 2016. The aim is to examine the progress of the Strategy and to launch discussions on the priority themes for the next Strategy. In addition, more specific attention will be paid to two topics: 1) gender mainstreaming, one of the five strategic objectives of the Strategy, and 2) the impact of new media on gender equality, a topic which relates to at least three of the strategic objectives – combating gender stereotypes and sexism, preventing and combating violence against women and achieving balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making – and also to our other chairmanship priorities.

Gender mainstreaming has been gaining more and more attention in the work of intergovernmental committees and through the work of Gender Equality Rapporteurs in the Council of Europe. At the same time, progress has also been made at the national level. Considering that gender mainstreaming at the international level supports similar efforts at the national level, it would be useful to bring together both national and international actors on all levels of policy making in order to exchange ideas and good practices.

New media can have both a negative and a positive impact on gender equality. On the one hand, new media can be used to broadcast gender stereotypes, online sexism, sexist hate speech and other types of violence against women. Such phenomena also have a negative impact on women’s will to participate in public discussions. On the other hand, new media can be used to facilitate women’s involvement in political and public decision-making and to take a role of leadership. Estonia considers it important to turn more attention to these contrasting impacts, in order to tackle the negative effects and enhance the positive results.

Expected outcome: Impetus has been provided for closer co-operation among international organisations in implementing gender mainstreaming and thus supporting more effective implementation in member States. The role of new media in promoting gender equality has gained wider leverage in the Council of Europe. Discussions held have formed a basis for the next Strategy of Gender Equality.

3.         Children’s rights

The Council of Europe protects and promotes the human rights of everyone, including children. Based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the European Convention on Human Rights and other legal standards, the Council of Europe promotes and protects the rights of 150 million children in Europe.

Estonia believes that investing in children’s rights is the driving force in creating a just and more inclusive society. Engaging children in decision-making processes, thus encouraging child participation, as well as guaranteeing child-friendly access to justice, are the priorities that Estonia is committed to. In order to prevent secondary victimisation and criminalisation of children, we are striving to adapt justice to the needs of children who come into contact with the justice system as victims, witnesses or juvenile offenders.

The new Strategy for the Rights of the Child was launched at a High-level Conference in Sofia during the Bulgarian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers at the beginning of April 2016.

During its chairmanship, Estonia will highlight a few themes of the new Strategy, placing emphasis on three key areas: child participation, children’s rights in the digital environment and children in migration. These subjects will be addressed at an annual high-level conference, organised by the Estonian Human Rights Institute on 4 November 2016 in Tallinn. The conference on children’s rights will focus on the digital world and migration, and more importantly, on children’s need to be heard, for they will be engaged throughout the whole process. As Estonia is also holding the presidency in UNICEF, there is a plan for a side event focusing on the subject of children in the migration crisis to be organised in cooperation with UNICEF. The side event will be held during “The High-level meeting of the Plenary of the UN General Assembly on large movements of refugees and migrants” in New York on 19 September 2016.

The prevention of and fight against the sexual abuse of children will remain one of the priorities in the children’s rights agenda. Estonia will ratify the Lanzarote Convention and promote better implementation of the Convention throughout the member States of the Council of Europe. Many awareness-raising activities will be carried out in Estonia on the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse held on 18 November.

Expected outcome: Maintaining children’s rights as one of the top priorities in the Estonian Government’s agenda and endorsing the new Strategy throughout the Council of Europe area.



Date, Venue


25 May 2016,


Opening of the exhibition “We, The Roma” in the CM foyer by Mr Indrek Saar, Minister of Culture of Estonia

1-3 June 2016,


Council of Europe Intergovernmental Project: “Educating for Diversity and Democracy: Teaching history in contemporary Europe” (First Regional Seminar)

9-10 June 2016,


EuroDIG 2016

13-14 June 2016, Strasbourg

High-level Seminar: “Protection and promotion of human rights in culturally diverse societies”

21 June 2016


Presentation of the Rule of Law Checklist by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Marina Kaljurand, at the Venice Commission side event in the margins of the PACE Session

30 June - 1 July 2016, Tallinn  

High-level Conference “Are we there yet? Assessing progress, inspiring action – The Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017”

9 September 2016, Strasbourg

Conference on Internet Freedom

19 September 2016,

New York

Joint UNICEF-Council of Europe side event during the high-level week of the 71st UN General Assembly: “Children in the migration crisis” (TBC)

27-28 September 2016, Tallinn

Conference: “The European Pharmacopoeia and the Quality of Medicines: Tackling future challenges together”

29-30 September 2016, Tallinn

3rd Council of Europe Platform Exchange Seminar: “Culture 4D: Digitisation, Data, Disruptions, Diversity”

5-6 October 2016, Budapest

3rd Youth Forum on Human Rights and Democracy Education   

13-14 October 2016, Tartu

XXXIV Estonian Lawyers’ Days, key note speaker Mr Guido Raimondi, President of the European Court of Human Rights

24-28 October 2016, Viljandi

Pestalozzi Seminar “How to develop inclusive school culture for supporting co-operation and participation competencies?”

4 November 2016,


Conference on Children’s Rights with a focus on the digital world and migration

7-11 November 2016, Strasbourg

World Forum for Democracy

17-18 November 2016, Strasbourg

17th Roundtable of the European Governmental LGBTI Focal Points Network

16-18 November 2016, Strasbourg

Cybercrime Octopus-Conference dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the Convention