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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Icelandic Defence Law to be amended

 

The Icelandic Government has decided to put forward a parliamentary bill to amend Defence Law nr. 34/2008. The decision is based on the report of a working group of five ministries appointed in December 2009 ( Prime Minister's Office, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Justice and Human Rights ).  The working group was mandated to come up with proposals on how to implement the Government´s decision to disband the Icelandic Defence Agency in 2010 and merge its operations with other government agencies.  The decision will neither impact the Government´s commitment to fulfil its defence and security related obligations nor the continued responsibility of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for foreign policy aspects of defense and security.

The report highlights how the current duties of the Defence Agency could be accommodated within a new civilian institution in charge of security and defence matters, based on civilian values, under the auspices of the prospective Ministry of Interior.  In addition, the report includes suggestions on which structures could assume the duties of the Agency until the new ministry is established.  The report finally suggests amendments to the Defence Law to reflect that the Defence Agency will be formally disbanded as of 1 January 2011.

The bill, upon its adoption, foresees that the Defence Agency will be managed by a special transition board composed of representatives from the five government ministries concerned.  The transition board will inter alia advise the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the possible allocation of individual tasks to specific agencies. Pending the establishment of the Ministry of Interior, the report details how these tasks could be accommodated within the Coast Guard, the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, Government Real Estate and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.  Certain functions could also be outsourced as needed.

The parliamentary bill includes a new provision to the Defence Law authorizing the Minister for Foreign Affairs to conclude contracts concerning the transfer of individual tasks from the Defence Agency to government agencies destined to become part of the new Ministry of Interior.

Furthermore, the bill ensures that Agency staff will be offered employment by those government agencies that assume tasks from the Defence Agency.

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