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Human Rights in Foreign Policy

Human rights are one of the cornerstones of Iceland’s foreign policy. In accordance with Articles 55 and 56 of the Charter of the United Nations, the member states have committed themselves to measures conducive to acknowledging human rights and fundamental freedom without any discrimination. 

Iceland works towards the protection and furtherance of human rights in the world, primarily within the relevant international organizations. This is achieved for example through participation in ensuring the implementation of current international agreements regarding human rights; through participation in the drafting of new international agreements and participation in the making of resolutions; exchange of opinions and work at grassroots level where measures and policies of the international community are formed.  Iceland plays a role in calling the attention of the international community to any lack of respect for human rights, occasions of systematic violations of human rights are, and in finding ways to combat such violations. Iceland raises the state of human rights issues at the bilateral level with other states, as well as in international meetings, and plays an active role in finding ways to improve situations.

Iceland's focus areas

  • women’s and children's rights and combating all violence and discrimination against women and children
  • gender equality
  • measures against human trafficking
  • contribute to discussions within the UN regarding sexual orientation and improved rights of  LGBTI-individuals
  • ensuring that measures against international terrorist offences are not detrimental to human rights
  • to advocate complete prohibition of torture, abolition of the death penalty and unlawful executions
  • to fight against enforced disappearance and impunity
  • the link between human rights, peace and security and the responsibility of the international community

Human rights are universal and concern everyone, everywhere, regardless of time and space. They are an integral part of international relations, not the private matter of each state. Today there is a more comprehensive understanding than before of the interaction between human rights, sustainable development, peace and security; and stronger emphasis is now placed on the link between human rights, democratic development and the rule of law. Of course, these areas often overlap and raise important questions.  Iceland’s fundamental policy regarding human rights is integrated into all areas of foreign policy. Iceland has ratified all major international conventions and agreements on human rights and encourages other states to do the same and advocates for the implementation of said conventions and agreements.

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