The Estonian School of Diplomacy (ESD) was established in 1990 with the aim of training competent personnel for the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was being recreated at the time. For the next ten years, its activities primarily focused on professional education for the MFA and its personnel.
A decade later, ESD extended its scope to include trainees from other public institutions as those outside the country. A new certificate programme 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 programme, in cooperation with the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), to enrol students from the Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine. Soon after, the Estonian and Finnish ministries of foreign affairs provided support that enabled ESD to expand the programme to include young diplomats and state officials from Moldova and Georgia. In 2011, the US Department of State supported the training of Belarusian civil society activists at ESD. Cooperation with other countries has been ongoing as well.
Over the years ESD has carried out several training projects with the aim of highlighting and sharing best practices derived from Estonia’s experience in implementing reforms and integrating successfully with NATO and the EU. Based on this experience, specific topics covered in these projects have ranged from developing a career foreign service and how to design and carry out public administration reform on the one hand, to more general topics such as international cooperation, the art of negotiating, and state-building, among others. A number of custom short-term training projects have been launched for diplomats and civil servants from Central Asia (including Afghanistan), the Balkan countries, the Middle East, and North Africa.
ESD has been actively following developments of the European Union Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), with special interest in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative launched in 2009. That year, ESD began organizing and holding multilateral seminars and conferences targeted to state officials from the 6 EaP countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.In the EaP region, ESD has worked closely with its counterpart institutions (diplomatic academies and training centres) in Armenia, Georgia, and Ukraine to assist in institution-building and curriculum development
Currently, ESD’s scholarship programme accepts students from many countries around the world, from the EaP and Central Asian states to Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.