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Priorities of Iceland's Presidency of the Council of Europe

Iceland takes over the presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for the third time since it became a member on 7 March 1950. 

During our presidency, in addition to ensuring that the 4th Summit delivers on expectations of the Council’s many stakeholders, Iceland will focus on four main themes and the interlinkages between them, namely:

  1. The Council’s core principles of human rights, democracy, and rule of law
  2. The Environment 
  3. Equality
  4. Children and Youth

Human rights, democracy, and the rule of law: United around our values 

As the world faces one of the greatest challenges ever to the global peace architecture – with Russia’s war of aggression against a democratic sovereign state in the heart of Europe – we must return to fundamental principles and the framework that has kept us together. 

Enhanced cooperation between democracies to further strengthen the crucial work of the Council of Europe in advancing its core principles - human rights, democracy, and rule of law – is needed to combat the growing challenges to many of the basic rights we may have thought to be secured. 

The Council’s core principles are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. In a time of democratic backsliding and rising authoritarianism. Democracy cannot be considered in isolation from the rule of law and human rights. Democracy needs transparent and accountable institutions, and the legitimacy of those institutions depend on compliance with rule of law and respect for human rights. 

We are at a critical juncture. As States we have a choice, and for Iceland, that choice is clear. We must come together to reaffirm our commitments to the Council’s core principles and the 4th Summit of the Council of Europe will be an opportunity for our leaders to reaffirm their common commitment to the values that have proven to be such a blessing for the people of the world. 

We must put human rights, democracy and rule of law front and center and throughout our presidency, Iceland will strive to do just that. As an example, the handover of the presidency from Ireland to Iceland is held in connection to the World Forum for Democracy – a unique platform for political decision-makers and activists to debate solutions to key challenges for democracies worldwide.


The negative effects of environmental and climate change on the enjoyment of human rights across the globe is increasing. Many questions about the relationship between human rights and the environment remain unanswered and require further examination. 

All through Iceland’s presidency there will be a green theme to promote the interrelationship between human rights and the environment. This will be done by, for example, looking at the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, that some states have incorporated in their legislation, but also by promoting the need for green public administration and green solutions.

As children and youth are the most impacted by today's global environmental crisis and are the most threatened by our current trajectory, Iceland will also support a consultative meeting on young people on climate change. 


The principle of equality is at the very heart of human rights and a core principle embedded in Iceland’s foreign policy.

Iceland is steadfast in its commitment to gender equality and the protection of the hard-earned progress concerning the human rights of women and girls around the world. While important gains in the fight against gender-based violence have been made over decades of activism, it is clear that new forms of violence have emerged. During our presidency, Iceland will focus specifically on action against digital violence and the role of men and boys in gender equality policies.

Iceland is also strongly committed to promoting and protecting the rights of LGBTQI+ individuals and to create a safe, inclusive, and enabling environment for the promotion of human rights and equality for all. During our presidency, Iceland will proudly host the 10th IDAHOT+ Forum in Reykjavik and organize events in Strasbourg related to the advancement of the LGBTQI+ rights and preventing and combating violence and discrimination against LBQ women. 

Children and Youth 

Every child has the right to grow to adulthood in health, peace and dignity and it is imperative for all States to ensure the rights of children. 

During our presidency, Iceland will promote placing the child at the center of policy making through integrating services and protection systems for children. The Barnahús (Children’s house) is an early model of this approach, a child-friendly, interdisciplinary, and multiagency center where different professionals work under one roof on investigations of suspected child abuse cases and provide appropriate support for child victims. Parts of Iceland’s cultural program during our presidency will also be geared towards children.

Young people should be respected as active democratic citizens and be included in all decision-making processes, not only in decisions concerning them. During our presidency, Iceland will support the follow-up to the Council of Europe’s popular Democracy Here | Democracy Now youth campaign for revitalizing democracy and strengthening mutual trust between young people and democratic institutions and processes. Iceland will also organize consultative meetings on young people and climate change as well as on migrant and refugee children transitioning to adulthood. 

Furthermore, Iceland will ensure that the voice of young people is heard in the leadup to and during the 4th Summit of the Council of Europe. 


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