The Estonian World Council (EWC) was established in 1954 in the United States to unite Estonian communities abroad and help international coordination for Estonia’s re-independence. Three large central organizations – Estonian American National Council, Estonian Central Council in Canada, Association of Estonians in Sweden – were founding members of EWC.
In addition, there were three medium-sized central organizations (Association of Estonians in Great Britain, Estonian Society in the Federal Republic of Germany, and Council of Estonian Societies in Australia), and three smaller ones (in Belgium, France, and South Africa). The latter three are no longer members, but the Czech-Estonian Club, Latvian Estonian Society, Estonian Community in Lithuania, Ukrainian Estonian Society, and Russian Association of Estonian Societies have since joined.
The Estonian World Council (EWC) was registered as a non-profit organization in 1982. In 1984 it began to raise funds for the Freedom Fund, to ensure the needed resources for the freedom fighters. The majority of these funds came from Estonian Americans.
In 1992 the Freedom Fund provided substantial funding to the Estonian identity document program, which prepared Estonian society for elections in re-independent Estonia.
The Freedom Fund has supported the activities of EWC member countries, as well as helped the organizers of ESTO festivals financially. EWC has designated the location of ESTO festivals and organized National Congresses at ESTOs to facilitate discussions on an international level. ESTO festivals have been an important weapon in the freedom fight, giving new energy to Estonians abroad and igniting attention in their countries, through demonstrations and the dissemination of information about Estonia’s fate.
In 2019 EWC published a book giving an overview of and history of EWC, its members, and activities in their countries, with numerous photos depicting events and people.