The Estonian Institute of Human Rights (EIHR) is the first and oldest independent organisation in Estonia that has been systematically dealing with the protection of human rights. The Institute was established on Human Rights Day, 10 December 1992. The initiator and first patron of the Institute was President Lennart Meri. Currently, we have 40 members and a Board that directs everyday work.

The goal of the Institute of Human Rights is to collect, systematise, analyse and promote information about human rights, to increase public awareness about the field and to make proposals about how to better protect human rights in Estonia and elsewhere in the world. For achieving this, the Institute cooperates with NGOs, universities and governmental institutions, as well as organises training courses and conferences, publishes articles and reports and participates in international networks.

Our work can be divided into four main areas: education, research, international cooperation and human rights related events.  In the aforementioned areas, the Institute conducts human rights related researches, undertakes international and educational projects and cooperates with several domestic and international organisations.




International cooperation

The EIHR has set up four international projects: two educational projects in Central Asia, in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, an open diplomacy project with the Crimean Tatar community in Ukraine and a research project in Georgia.

Educational projects are aiming to advance human rights and support the democratic development of Tajik and Kyrgyz societies by working with the local civil society representatives, universities and schools. Through a training programme adapted to local needs, NGO partners and local residents from the two countries increase awareness of human rights and take steps in promoting and defending them.

The project in Ukraine is named “Advocacy of Human Rights for the Crimean Tatar People through Public Diplomacy” and its objective is to provide a foundation for systematic and effective Crimean Tatar public diplomacy, which is based on the understanding that the national cause of Crimean Tatar people is to restore and secure their individual and collective human rights as the indigenous people of Crimea.

Our fourth international project is related to research in Georgia, the outcome of which is a report on the current state of human rights in Georgia (“Georgian human rights report 2015”).

Human rights related events

One of the Institute’s biggest events is the Annual Conference of Human Rights that deals with international issues of human rights is taking place for the seventh time this year. The conference has been held every year on Human Rights Day since 2011. Past conferences have focused on for example: Internet and human rights, human rights and security, international institutions of human rights, human rights in the changing world etc. Conference performers are internationally recognised specialists and well-known experts in the field.

In coordination with other organisations the Institute organises events important to the Estonian people for example Remembrance Days of the victims of Nazism and communism (23rd of August) and the victims of Soviet deportations (25th of March and 14th of June) from Estonia. Soviet mass deportations, which took approximately 30 000 people away from their homes to deportation camps in Siberia, have been repeadedly declared a crime against humanity by the Estonian Parliament.

In previous years, we have cooperated with the French Institute in Estonia (l’Institut Français) and with the Council of Europe in Estonia in organising a series of debates and discussions about migration.


Institute’s research subjects diversify from security, the Internet and human rights in the international arena to different reports on the human rights situation in Estonia. The Institute recently completed the Public Opinion Survey on Human Rights in Estonia (2016). One of the main objectives of the study was to determine whether the population’s awareness on the topic of human rights had improved. For the Public Opinion Survey of 2018 the Institute has also involved Latvia and Lithuania and is analysing public opinion of human rights in all three Baltic countries.

Considering the European migrant crisis related issues increasingly in the public eye, the Institute conducted the Survey of Estonian New Immgrants to learn about Estonian public attitude towards immigrants.

In addition to that the Institute has observed the following of human rights in the Estonian army (“Human Rights in the Defence Forces”), studied the correlation of the human right of language and security (“Linguistic Human Rights and Security”), as well as analysed the freedom of religion in Estonia (“The Freedom of Religion in Estonia 2013”).

International research work of the Institute involves for example the assesment of human rights in Georgia (“Georgian human rights report 2015”).

In previous years the Institute has published for example “The right to privacy as a human right and everyday technologies 2014” and “The Estonian human rights report 2012.”


The main goal of this direction of action is to promote human rights education in Estonia, by working with schools, non-governmental organisations, youth centres and others, and by providing trainings and organising conferences for various participants in human rights education. We have two travelling exhibitions in Estonian schools and libraries: Human rights during the Soviet occupation time and an exhibition on the life of Anne Frank in cooperation with the Anne Frank House. One more exhibition related to migration is yet to come.

We are implementing the concept of “human rights respecting schools” across Estonia. We also produce and translate relevant publications for human rights education such as the Council of Europe’s COMPASS-Manual for Human Rights education with Young People, and we have developed our own textbook for teachers to use in classes to teach human rights (“Inimese Õigus”). We cooperate with the European Wergeland Centre, the Council of Europe and Ministries of Education from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the organisation by rotation of the annual Baltic Summer Academies, which are aimed at creating local partnerships for the promotion of human rights and the democratic governance of schools.

Annual Report 2018

Annual Report 2017

The activities of the Institute are financed by European and Estonian funds, governmental funds and private donors. EIHR is a voluntary organisation comprised of different members working on different projects. The Institute is led by a General Assembly, an elected board and a council. Our funding mainly comes from the ministries of social affairs, culture, justice and foreign affairs as well as some independent foundations.

Thank You!