Latvia at the United Nations
The UN was founded in 1945 in order to maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations among nations, to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems and to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations. The forerunner of the UN was the League of Nations established in 1919. Latvia became a member of the League of Nations in 1921.
After almost fifty years of Soviet occupation on 21 August 1991 Latvia declared the restoration of its independence. On 17 September Latvia became a member of the UN, thus acknowledging Latvia ’s commitments to the principles and values of the UN. Latvia has always attached great importance to the United Nations’ activities and views multilateral cooperation as the most important instrument to address the challenges and realities of the 21st century.
Broader representation in the elected bodies of the United Nations is a prerequisite for the implementation of interests of Latvia ’s foreign policy. Currently Latvia has been elected as a member the Executive Board of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to the Sustainable Development Commission (CSD) and to the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD).
Latvia attaches great importance to the role of ECOSOC in the economic, social, and humanitarian and human rights field. In October 2010 Latvia was elected as a member of the ECOSOC for the term 2011-2013. This is the second time for serving in ECOSOC (first mandate was for the term 1997-1999).
Latvia is also active member of two functional commissions of ECOSOC. Promoting information society across the world, in particular developing countries, is one of Latvia ’s priorities in the CSTD. Latvia has been an elected member of the CSTD since 2007 tasked with inter alia being the focal point for the system-wide follow-up to the WSIS outcomes. Latvia has been re-elected to the CSTD at the elections in April 2010 for the term 2011-2014. In May 2009 Latvia was elected as a member of the CSD for the term 2010-2013. During its membership Latvia strongly supports waste management, biodiversity and forestry issues.
On April 2012, ECOSOC elected Latvia to the Executive Board of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) for the term 2013-2015. This is yet another proof to what Latvia has achieved so far in the field of gender equality and women’s rights both at the national and international level. Latvia has also taken part in international projects for promoting gender equality, opportunities for women and experience sharing. Thereby Latvia supports an effective implementation of the EU Security Council’s Regulation 1325 on Women and peace and security, which is one of priority directions in the UN Women work.
On 23rd January, 2013, during the UN Women Executive session, H.E. Mr. Normans Penke, Latvian Ambassador to the UN has been elected a President of the UN Women Executive Board for 2013. Latvian participation in the UN Women Executive Board coincides with important period of this institution when its strategic priorities for the next four years are defined: review of the progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and ways to advance the UN development agenda beyond 2015. It’s an opportunity for Latvia to contribute to the joint efforts to achieve the gender equality and women's empowerment in the world.
Latvia has always placed promotion of human rights among its top priorities. Latvia has put forward its candidature to the Human Rights Council at the elections to be held in 2014.
Latvia is ready to assume greater international responsibility and is planning to engage more actively in the work of the UN Security Council by putting forward its candidature for the non-permanent seat at the elections to be held in 2025.
H.E. Mr Aivars Baumanis became the first Permanent Representative of Latvia to the UN, he served until October 1997. Since then, the following ambassadors of Latvia have served as Permanent Representatives to the UN: H.E. Mr Jānis Priedkalns (from October 1997 to February 2001), H.E. Mr Gints Jegermanis (from October 2001 to March 2005), H.E. Ms Solveiga Silkalna (from April 2005 to September 2008) and H.E. Mr Normans Penke (from November 2008 to August 2013). Since August 2013 the Permanent Representative of Latvia is H.E. Mr Jānis Mažeiks.