The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination presented Estonia with observations and recommendations for the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination for the implementation of the Convention.
The Committee’s view of Estonia’s integration policies is appreciative and positively enhances Estonia’s integration strategies, mechanisms for consulting with minority groups, and recognition of cultural diversity in education. The Committee highly appreciates the goals of Estonia’s integration policy of Estonia being a society where ‘everyone will have the opportunity for self-realisation, will feel secure, and will participate in the economic, social, political, and cultural life of the society,’ and it commends the efforts undertaken to this end. The Committee also welcomes the adoption of the Equal Treatment Act in Estonia.
Contrary to the interpretation given today by the media, the Committee consisting of independent experts has not suggested the adoption of another national language or official language other than the Estonian language; the recommendation was to consider a dual language approach in regard to the delivery of public services also in counties where minority groups make up less than half of the population.
We would like to draw attention to the fact that this is the real situation in Estonia today. The current Language Act does not prohibit national and local government institutions from accepting documents drawn up in a foreign language or from communicating with individuals in languages other than Estonian (see Article 8 of the Language Act), and this is observed in practice.
The recommendations given by the Committee are meant for the more efficient implementation of the Convention. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has communicated to other government institutions all the recommendations suggested by the Committee to jointly draft responses that explain the situation in Estonia and our opinion in the given matter.
The final recommendations of the Committee are available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/docs/co/CERD-C-EST-CO-8_9.doc