The fourth Summit of the Council of Europe takes place in Reykjavík next week. On the meeting’s agenda is the establishment of a Register to record the damage caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and to reaffirm the importance of the core values of the Council of Europe. Careful preparations are in place for the meeting and disruptions of traffic can be expected while it is ongoing.
The Summit, which takes place on May 16-17, is the fourth Summit in the history of the Council of Europe. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe agreed in November last year that the Heads of State and Government would convene in Reykjavík under Iceland’s Presidency. The momentum for the Summit stems from Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the will to ensure that the Council can continue to further its core values within the continent: human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.
The Summit is hosted by Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, and Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland and the President of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
“The Council of Europe has been a leading institution in the field of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It has advocated freedom of expression, gender equality and the rights of children and has been very progressive in addressing the largest challenges of our time. I think that the fourth Summit to be held in the history of the Organisation will be historic. We will have the opportunity to take decisive steps in making Russia accountable for its aggression against Ukraine but also discuss the state of human rights and democracy during turbulent times when war is not only being waged in Europe, but the world is also confronted with climate hazards threatening us all. We are also in the midst of a technological revolution that can both have positive effects on all of us but can also develop in unpredictable ways,” says Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland.
“Iceland takes its responsibility seriously and by holding this Summit we contribute to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. There are high expectations that the outcome of the Summit will make a real difference for Ukraine and to contribute to ensuring accountability for the crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine,” says Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland.
One of the anticipated outcomes of the Reykjavik Summit is the establishment of a Register of Damages where all those who have suffered damages, loss or injury due to Russia’s aggression can have them recorded and subsequently redressed, as well as to seek ways to make those who have committed crimes in Ukraine accountable for their actions. We also expect the Summit to come together around the Reykjavík principles for democracy, providing a clear common understanding on how we secure and strengthen democracy in Europe. Additionally, various modern challenges, for example concerning human rights and the environment, artificial intelligence, and digital development will be high on the agenda.
The Summit will be held at Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre and the agenda is divided into an opening event, round table discussions on different subjects relating to the Summit’s outcome document, a working dinner that will be dedicated to Ukraine, and general discussions, during which the representatives of States will address the Summit. At the end of the Summit, Iceland will formally hand over the Presidency of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to Latvia. Latvia is the next Member State to hold the rotating Presidency of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers for a period of six months.
In addition to Heads of State and Government of the forty-six member States, the representatives of observer States and principal international organisations have been invited to participate. Close to one thousand people will participate in the Summit, as well as around three hundred foreign journalists who have announced their attendance.
Due to the scale of the Summit and the number of guests, disruptions can be expected both for people living in the area and tourists. For security reasons, the streets around Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre will be closed to vehicular traffic during the Summit, but the area will be accessible on foot and by bicycle. Additionally, traffic disruptions can be expected to occur all over the capital area, due to transportation of the delegations to and from airports, especially in the afternoon of Tuesday and Wednesday. Further information on road closures is on the website of the Government of Iceland.
“This Summit is the largest international event that Iceland has undertaken. A large number of people has participated in the preparations for the Summit for it to be conducted in the best manner possible. We will all contribute to making the Summit as effective as possible for all of Europe and for us all,” says Katrín Jakobsdóttir.
“We fully understand the inconvenience that the Summit will cause but at the same time we notice great positivity and ambition everywhere for the successful execution of this important event that will bring honour to us all. We are grateful for this good sense of solidarity,” says Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Icelandic Presidency of the Council of Europe
Iceland formally took over the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in November 2022. The main priority of the Icelandic Presidency has been to strengthen the core values of the Council of Europe – human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Iceland’s Presidency also focuses on the environment, rights of children and youth, and equality.
This is the third time that Iceland holds the Presidency since its accession to the Council of Europe in 1950, having previously held the Presidency in 1955 and 1999. Iceland’s Presidency will formally end with the Council of Europe Summit which the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs have convened. It will be the fourth Council of Europe Summit in history and the largest Summit and ministerial meeting ever held in Iceland.
Further information on Iceland’s Presidency of the Council of Europe can be found in Iceland’s Presidency Programme.
About the Council of Europe
46 States with seven hundred million inhabitants are members of the Council of Europe. The aims of the Council are to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe and improve the living standards of Europeans. The Council of Europe was founded in the aftermath of the Second World War to consolidate democratic stability, and thereby prevent the outbreak of another war in the continent. The Council of Europe’s work is based on international agreements concluded within the Council. The Council addresses, among other things, issues relating to human rights, democracy, the rule of law, equality, freedom of expression, environmental protection, local politics, and culture. The Council of Europe has contributed to the conclusion of about two hundred international agreements in various fields which also concern other parts of the world. The European Court of Human Rights, which is one of the key institutions in the field of human rights worldwide, gives effect to the European Convention on Human Rights.