Indrek Teder, Opening speech to the 9th European Youth Parliament Estonian National Session

Indrek Teder
Chancellor of Justice of Estonia
25 October 2008 in Tartu

It is my sincere pleasure to give this opening speech here in autumnal Tartu, at the 9th European Youth Parliament Estonian National Session. I am delighted to see so many enthusiastic young faces in front of me ready to spend 4 full days talking about globally important questions.

At the first glance when looking at session’s committees and topics, it seems that organizers have tried to cover wide range of issues from gas prices to gender equality. But then if I took more philosophical look at all subjects I noted that actually there is a very strong rope binding all this tightly together – this rope is called basic rights. Under some topics relevant stipulations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are clearly pointed out. Nevertheless - also concerning rest of themes - one can find very easily pertinent universal rights that should be taken as starting points when trying to find solutions to posed problems.

Committee on Culture and Education, dealing with issues of education in multicultural Europe, is inseparably connected with article 26.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stating that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. At the same time education provided shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations. Same principles are brought out in the article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stating that education should be directed to the full development of the human personality and shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, and all racial, ethnic or religious groups. So therefore it becomes clear that not only access to education is fundamental right, but all persons should get education that allows preserving their national identity and beliefs promoting at the same time understanding of other cultures.

If bringing out randomly another example then the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy has been asked to concentrate on common European energy policy and to find an answer to the question how can EU best achieve energy security. Energy policy has certainly intersections with issues of social security and environment. Rising energy prices could increase the number of persons living in poverty. Stone-age manner of energy production can and has already lead to irreversible environmental damages that at the end will violate all aspects of our lives starting from basic right to health ending with material damage to our property let it be by floods, hurricanes etc.

I guess by now you are already wondering that why am I so obsessed about basic rights and fundamental freedoms. Let me remind you that the main task for the Chancellor of Justice is to supervise that human rights are followed in all policies and actions the state or its subordinate bodies take. So therefore my task is not only to passively monitor but also to guide the society how to associate their very personal rights with all steps states are taking. I urge also you to see forest behind every tree and to go back to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in every issue you are talking here about. It is even more symbolic this year, when we celebrate already the 60th anniversary of the declaration. It is noteworthy that despite of the changes in economy, number of states in the word or other such factors basic human rights have remained the same as written down more than half a century ago.

Let me conclude with a line of wisdom from Eleanor Roosevelt: “At all times, day by day, we have to continue fighting for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom from want — for these are things that must be gained in peace as well as in war.” . I do wish that you will spend at least these 4 days following this motto.