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Statement by Iceland in exchange of views with Ms Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

Council of Europe, Committee of Ministers, 1397th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies. Statement delivered by Ambassador Ragnhildur Arnljótsdóttir.

Thank you, Mr. Chair, for giving me the floor and let me warmly welcome Ms. Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and thank her for her update as well as her daily work. We appreciate your clear message and strong voice for human rights in our Council and beyond.

Mr. Chair,

Just to briefly touch upon the issues that Ms. Mijatovíc raised let me start by reiterating that global health emergencies such as Covid-19 can only be addressed through concerted multilateral efforts. Equal access to vaccines is critical, and so is a multilateral approach to the indirect economic and social impacts of the pandemic. Iceland, with many if not all of you, is committed to play its part to support these efforts, including through the World Health Organization and COVAX.

The points you raise Madam Commissioner on not only the impact on health in our region due to covid-19, but also the vicious cycle of deepened inequalities it creates are concerning. It underlines that our response to covid-19 should not only be a health one, but a human rights one, to ensure that we build back better and more inclusive.

Mr. Chair,

We also appreciate the efforts of Madam Commissioner to coordinate with and engage with others outside of the CoE working on human rights. We believe this to be an important element in ensuring a collective and coherent work to improve human rights in our region.

We note with satisfaction the engagement you have had with for example the special mandate holders of the Human Rights Council and appreciate the opportunities engaging with the very good independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity could have to strengthen and foster a shared commitment to advance the protection and promotion of the human rights of LGBTI+ people in Europe.

Finally, as you touched upon civil society and the ability to raise one´s voice against injustice and positive change for human rights we would like to reiterate our support to those that work for human rights. It is a sad reality that those fight for human rights are often subjected to violence, harassment and threats to their life, or even pay the ultimate price because of their work. We categorically condemn all such attacks or killings and express our dismay that many of these threats are gendered and made against women and LGBTI+ defenders.

I thank you Mr. Chair.

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