ESTONIAN SCHOOL OF DIPLOMACY was established in 1990 with the aim to train competent personnel for the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that was being re-created at the time. The training was predominatly diplomacy related and focused for officials of MFA.

At the change of millennium ESD extended its scope to bring in broader audience including trainees from other public institutions as well as outside the country. A new training program was developed entitled International Relations and European Integration and the language of instruction was changed from Estonian to English.

In 2005 ESD launched its first joint scholarship program in coopertaion with the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to enrol students from the Ukrainian Diplomatic Academy. Soon after the Estonian and Finnish Ministries of Foreign Affairs contributed to the established scholarhip program in order to support young diplomats and state officials from Moldova and Georgia. In 2011 the US Department of State contributed to training Belarusian civil society activists at ESD. Cooperation with many other countries has been ongoing.

Today ESD has more than 500 graduates dealing with foreign relations in state institutions, international organisations, non-governmental organisations as well as in private sector. Many graduates have become successful carreer diplomats holding diplomatic posts for Estonia, for the EU institutions, the EaP countries, Central Asia, Arab countries etc. 

ESD has contributed to institution building and curriculum development for the Ukrainian, Armenian and Georgian Diplomatic Academys and training centers.

ESD operates as a foundation/non-profit institution with an objective to promote theoretical and practical knowledge in the field of international relations, European integration, diplomac and public administration reform. In this framework ESD organises:

  • scholarship programs
  • advanced tailor-made training courses and study visits for foreign diplomats and civil servants
  • management and consultancy of international training projects
  • scientific research and development
  • consulting
  • publishing

ESD is a member in the following organisations focusd on studies and teachings of international relations and related fields: The European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), the European Information Network of International Relations and Area Studies (EINIRAS), the International Affairs Network (IAN), the International Forum of Diplomatic Training (IFDT), the International Studies Association (ISA) and the University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES).

Over the years ESD has carried out several training projects with the aim on sharing Estonia's reform experience and integration of the EU and NATO, foreign service formation, international relations, cooperation and diplomacy, international negotiations,  state and democracy building, public administration reform. A number of tailor-made short-term training projects have been launched for diplomats and civil servants from Afghanistan, Central-Asia, the Balcan countries, Palestine, Iraq and North-Africa.  

ESD has been actively following developments of the European Union Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) with special interest in its the Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative. In 2009 a tradition was established to organise multilateral public administration reform seminars and conferences targeted to state officials from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. 

In Jan 2011 in co-opertaion with the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs a unit of ESD named as the Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership (ECEAP) was established which today opperates as independant institution. ECEAP is a training and research center focused entirely on strengthening the administrative capacieties and approximation of EaP towards the European Union.

ESD's main supporters are: Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Co-opertaion Agency (SIDA), Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the US Department of State and European Commission.