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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Report on Iceland in the UN Human Rights Council

Report on Iceland in the UN Human Rights Council - myndUN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

The objectives of Iceland's membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council have been achieved in all key respects. This is among the conclusions of a report prepared by the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs following the end of Iceland's term at the Human Rights Council. Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation says that international response demonstrates that Iceland has passed the test of membership.
"Iceland’s membership of the Human Rights Council is undoubtedly one of the most important tasks carried out by the Icelandic foreign service and it marks a zenith of my work as a Foreign Minister. The project was a litmus test of how the Icelandic foreign service deals with large and complex projects. Comments by international human rights organizations and coverage by international media indicate that we have passed that test,” says Foreign Minister Thórdarson in his opening remarks of the report.
Iceland was elected to the Human Rights Council with a short notice. "This was followed by intense effort by our staff, especially our Permanent Mission in Geneva.," says Foreign Minister Thórdarson. "There was a broad consensus on that Iceland should make a positive impact on the lives of people in states with a poor human rights record. Saudi Arabia had largely escaped criticism and there was a strong call for a UN review of the situation in the Philippines. As a response, Iceland led a group of states in a first ever joint statement bringing attention to the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia in March 2019 and in July 2019 the Human Rights Council agreed on Iceland's initiative to request a report on the human rights situation in the Philippines from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights."
The report Iceland in the United Nations Human Rights Council looks at the situation leading up to Iceland's election to the Human Rights Council, the preparations involved and what issues were at the top of the agenda during Iceland’s term. Furthermore, an attempt is made to assess Iceland’s performance in the HRC and what lessons can be learned. The report raises the question of whether Iceland should in the future seek to be re-elected to the Council, in rotation with the other Nordic countries.
Foreign Minister Thórdarson introduced the report at a cabinet meeting last Friday and will present its findings at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Althingi soon. 
The 43rd session of the Human Rights Council begins on Monday, February 24.  Foreign Minister Thórdarson will take part in its annual ministerial week. This is the fourth year in a row that Thórdarson attends the ministerial week but in 2017 he became the first Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs to do so. 




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