Whether in cyberpower, governance or education, Estonia is at the forefront of innovation despite its size, providing it an outsize role in international matters. As the pandemic forces arethinking of long-held assumptions, Estonia is uniquely poised for making its voice heard in the international fora. The Estonian Foreign Ministry has asked the Capstone team to research how it might advocate for more human rights-based approaches in a post-COVID world.

The team looked into this through three issues where a rights-based approach was necessary. First, it examined the intersection of COVID-19, privacy and health. It explored the role of private actors such as technology companies that pervade modern social life in using personal data to form contact tracing applications, the accelerated development of healthcare technology and subsequent ethics considerations, and the security of applications for storing COVID-19 related documentation, like immunization records. Second, it looked into how governments can effectively engage as information warfare grows more sophisticated in the face of the pandemic and political turmoil. To understand how a new international consensus can and needs to be shaped around combating disinformation, it also studied the role for both civil society and technology companies. Lastly, it studied state compliance with countries’ pledges related to the environment in international fora to understand factors that influence levels of fulfilling commitments made. To analyze compliance levels, it studied the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone layer and analyzed which measures of “sticks and carrots” make it particularlysuccessful.