Protection of Human Rights

The protection of human rights is based on international and domestic law, as well as people’s awareness of their rights and the protection thereof. By joining international treaties on human rights, the Estonian state has assumed the obligation to ensure to everybody on its territory the rights and freedoms stipulated by the treaties.

International documents

The mechanisms for meeting the international standards on human rights are applied in Estonia in conformity with the accession to international treaties. The most important international documents related to human rights are: Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948); International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 November 1966); International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 November 1966); European Convention on Human Rights (Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by the Council of Europe on 4 October 1950); European Social Charter (adopted by the Council of Europe on 18 October 1961).

Protection of human rights in the UN

The UN has created various opportunities for the protection of human rights, on the basis of both the Charter and different treaties. The UN Human Rights Council, an inter-governmental body, was created in 2006. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is the coordinator of information regarding human rights in the UN.

The best-known option for states and individuals to protect their rights against the violation of human rights is to submit an application to the Human Rights Committee, who reviews complaints in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court stipulates the establishment of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Article 1 of the Statute stipulates that the Court is a permanent institution with a right to exercise its jurisdiction over persons responsible for the grave international crimes cited in the Statute, and it supplements national criminal jurisdictions.

Protection of human rights in Europe

Part II of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms deals with the European Court of Human Rights. General information on the European Court of Human Rights, its composition, procedure for recourse to the Court, and other relevant information is available on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Article 43 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU stipulates that any citizen of the Union and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State has the right to refer to the Ombudsman of the Union in cases of maladministration in the activities of the Community institutions or bodies, with the exception of the European Union Court of Justice acting in their judicial role. Article 44 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU stipulates that any citizen of the Union and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State has the right to petition the European Parliament.

In addition to courts, the Chancellor of Justice or the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner can also be addressed for the protection of one’s rights. A labour dispute is a disagreement between the parties of an employment relationship – the labourer and the employer – that has emerged upon the application of labour legislation, administrative legislation or the rules established by the employer, and which has proven impossible to resolve by mutual agreement. To resolve a labour dispute, one may have recourse to a labour dispute committee or the courts.

There are several organisations in Estonia that are involved in the protection and communication of human rights in different areas. Further information is available at the Institute of Human Rights.

Last amended: 21-04-2017 00:00 | Compiled by: Estonian Institute of Human Rights; Ministry of Foreign Affairs