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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Increased support for UNICEF, UN Women and UNFPA

Minister Gylfadóttir and Sima Sami Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women - mynd

The subject of Minister for Foreign Affairs Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir’s meetings with the leaders of the United Nations this week was Iceland’s participation in and support for the United Nations, as well as the war in Ukraine. During those meetings, the Minister also announced that this year Iceland will increase its contributions to UNICEF, UN Women and UNPFA. These organisations are all key partners in Iceland’s international development cooperation. 

In her meetings with Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, and Abdulla Shahid, President of the UN General Assembly, Minister Gylfadóttir spoke of the importance of safeguarding international cooperation in view of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and responding to its consequences, for Ukraine as well as other regions of the world, through effective emergency aid and humanitarian assistance. She also met with Emine Dzhaparova, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, to discuss the conflict in the country. Minister Gylfadóttir informed Ms. Dzhaparova of the Icelandic people’s overwhelming support for Ukraine, their condemnation of Russia’s behaviour and their determination to support the Ukrainian people in word and deed.

“Everyone here in New York is talking about Russia’s military aggression, both the terrible conditions of the inhabitants who are fighting for their lives and the effects the war has on world food supplies and economics. The effects the invasion has on the system of international cooperation and partnership, a system that has ensured peace in a large part of the world in recent decades, are also being widely discussed. I reiterated the importance of supporting Ukraine and safeguarding international law and the Charter of the United Nations, since Iceland has stood strongly for that viewpoint within the organisation. At the same time it must be ensured that the international consequences of Russia’s war operations do not affect those nations that are already weak because of poverty or conflict; the UN plays an important role in that regard,” Minister Gylfadóttir stated.

The Minister gave a speech on financing development during a high-level meeting, and Iceland and Grenada lead the discussions on the meeting’s outcome document. The Minister also visited Iceland’s main UN partner institutions, including UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP and UN Women, to discuss Iceland’s support, their main tasks and their responses to the consequences of the conflict.

Iceland recently received a gold certification for its gender equality efforts and Minister Gylfadóttir accepted it in connection with the visit.

In her meeting with Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA, the Minister signed a new agreement with the organisation on the allocation of 200 thousand US dollars per annum to support a cooperation project between UNICEF and UNFPA to eliminate female genital mutilation. Iceland has considerably increased its core contribution to the organisation in recent years, from 31.5 million ISK annually in 2017–2020, to 70 million in 2021. It has now been decided to increase the core contribution by Iceland to UNFPA to 120 million ISK. 

Iceland recently contributed 50 million ISK to UNFPA’s humanitarian projects in Ukraine and 40 million ISK to the organisation’s operations in Afghanistan. Additionally, UNFPA and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs recently launched a new cooperation project in Sierra Leone, with the aim to eliminate obstetric fistulas in the country in the coming years. 

Minister Gylfadóttir also met with Sima Sami Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women. It was recently announced that Iceland would increase its core contribution to the organisation by 12%. Iceland makes annual core contributions to UN Women, as well as contributing to UN Women projects in Palestine and Malawi and supporting safe spaces for Syrian women in refugee camps in Jordan.

During a meeting with UNICEF’s Executive Director, the Minister announced a 15% increase in Iceland’s core contribution to the organisation. In recent years, Iceland’s core contribution has been 130 million ISK, but this year it will be 150 million ISK. Iceland and UNICEF’s biggest cooperation projects have been water and sanitation projects in Iceland’s bilateral development cooperation partner countries, as well as a 250 million ISK contribution by Iceland to UNICEF’s global humanitarian response plan for transport of COVID-19 vaccines within developing countries. 

Minister Gylfadóttir stated: “Our reasons for raising our contributions to these important UN organisations include responding to widespread crisis, including in Ukraine and Afghanistan. Iceland had emphasised granting unearmarked core contributions in order to ensure predictability and enable the organisations to respond where the worst crises are occurring at any given time.”

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