Marina Kaljurand served as Estonian Foreign Minister from 2015 July – 2016 October. She has also been appointed as Ambassador of Estonia to several countries, including the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the State of Israel, Mexico, and Canada. Ms. Kaljurand has been appointed twice to serve as the Estonian National Expert at the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security. She began her career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1991 and had since held several leadership positions, including Undersecretary for Legal and Consular Affairs (Legal Adviser), Undersecretary for Trade and Development Cooperation, Undersecretary for Political Affairs.

She has played an important role as expert and negotiator in the process of Russian troop withdrawal and in negotiations on land and maritime boundaries agreements between Estonia and the Russian Federation, as well as in the accession negotiations of Estonia to the European Union and to the OECD. Marina Kaljurand graduated with cum laude from Tartu University (M.A. in Law), she also has a professional diploma from Estonian School of Diplomacy and an M.A. degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. Additionally, she has undergone professional training at the Universities of Lapland, Pittsburgh and Durham and at the Civil Service College in London.

She is a founding member of the Estonian branch of the International Law Association and of WIIS-EST (Estonian branch of Women in International Security). She has been awarded the Order of White Star, III class, and the Order of the National Coat of Arms, III class, by the President of Estonia. She is fluent in Estonian, English and Russian. Culled from website of the GCCS

At the just concluded Transform Africa Summit 2017, Ms Marina Kaljurand sat with Dolapo Aina for an interview. Do read the excerpts.

Do introduce yourself and what you do?

My name is Marina Kaljurand. I am the former Foriegn Affairs Minister of Estonia and I am an Estonian expert at the United Nations expert group of governments and experts on cyber security. And since march 2017, I began to chair the Global Commission on the Stability of Global Cyberspace.

For those who know Estonia, a small country but a giant when it comes to cyberspace, cyber security and the internet of things. Why so, for a country which is less than two million citizens?

Our population is 1.3 million (we are not big population-wise) but I agree that in today’s world when you use ICTs and can not take advantage of what internet and free secure internet provides, you can do many things to promote your governance (making it open and transparent), to promote your economy; to promote cultural ties; to promote human rights and civil societies. So, ICT has absolutely just opened new opportunities and vistas for development. And our country Estonia has taken the route of trying to take full advantage of the possibilities that ICT provides. But at the same time, we have to know about the challenges. Once you are using internet services, you are vulnerable and you have to take very good care of cyber security.

Estonia holds several records when it pertains to anything internet and cyber security. What are some of these achievements?

Estonia was the first country to begin e-voting, the first to have internet governance, the first country to introduce internet signatures; the first country to begin digital embassies. We believe that a lot of our data is online. For example, we dont have paper registers or land registers (land registry is an only online registry.) So it means that we have to protect the registries and we have to make them available anytime and anywhere. So, if there might be some situations that the registries in Estonia are not available, then we have the duplicates or copies in other places. And that is why we started the project of digital embassies and the first country we are cooperating with is Luxemburg.

Are there not disadvantages having all your data online?

So far, nobody has been able to prove that any services online are less secure than offline because it is a question of security. Whenever you have human factor, there is a risk. But you have the same risk in real life; people can find files; look at files; people can compromise data on paper. So, the risks are everywhere. And we just have to be ware of the risks and take technical steps and technical cyber security measures to minimise the risks. And since, we have a lot of data online, it is always a principal question of who owns the data. Our understanding is that data belongs to the person. So your medical records are your data and only you can give access to others to see your medical data. It is not the hospital or the doctor who owns the data; it is you who owns the data. I believe these are philosophical questions and they have a lot to do with cyber security. But as I said, nobody has so far proved that internet services online are less secure. You just have to take security in real life, online life, digital life; very seriously.

Has Estonia experienced cyber attacks and what were the measures taken that other countries especially on the African Continent could learn form?

I believe we were the first country in the world to fall under political cyber attacks in 2007. We had attacks which took down our banking services and our websites for sometime. They did not disrupt anything but they disturbing. But we learnt from there that we have to take care nationally, we need to have our strategies, laws, clear division of powers, we have to work internationally because cooperation is needed if we are talking about attribution or if we are talking about those who are behind attacks. We have learnt our lessons and we have been very vocal all over the world; at international organisations (United Nations, European Union, OSCE, NATO) talking about cyber security.

Currently, you are the Chair of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace. What is GCSC all about?

It is a multi-stakeholder platform that was launched in March 2017, which has twenty four Commissioners who represent twenty four different countries, different regions and divergent thinking and who come from very different backgrounds. Amongst them are politicians, representatives of academia, ICT experts, lawyers etc. With the knowledge in the group and with additional knowledge from our researchers, we elaborate and draft very concrete proposals and recommendations that we propose to States and Governments on how to make cyberspace stable and secure.

Dolapo Aina,

Kigali, Rwanda.

Youtube Interview||


Photo Credit: Google Images

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July, 18 2017

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