The National Security Council operates under Act No. 98/2016, on the National Security Council, adopted by the Icelandic parliament Althingi on 1 September 2016.
The main role of the National Security Council is to ensure that the implementation of Iceland’s National Security Policy accords with Parliamentary Resolution No. 26/145 and to serve as a consultative forum on issues of national security.
The National Security Council is not intended to influence the division of administrative affairs between ministries. Responsibility for the administration of individual functions relating to national security lies with the respective ministries as provided for in the current Presidential Decree.
Ministries, institutions and public corporations have specific obligations towards the National Security Council:
to deliver reports or data on issues related to national security;
to give notice of new information or other aspects of concern for national security policy or the security of the state or the general public.
Public officials and other employees of ministries, public institutions and corporations, as well as individuals and representatives of legal entities, are obliged to attend meetings of the National Security Council, if so requested.
Tasks of the National Security Council
Supervising the implementation of national security policy
The National Security Council ensures that the implementation of national security policy accords with the Althingi's resolution.
The Council requests reports from individual ministries as to how the ministry and agencies under its auspices have followed up on individual emphases of national security policy. The ministries’ reports are discussed by the National Security Council.
Following the discussion in the National Security Council, an account is provided to the Althingi of how national security policy has been implemented, and the Foreign Affairs Committee is informed of those issues currently likely to affect administration of National Security Policy.
This account is prepared in co-operation with the ministries implementing the policy in their respective areas of responsibility, based on the ministries' reports. It explains how efforts have been directed at implementing the policy, makes an assessment of how successful this has been and provides new information concerning the progress towards the objectives set. An account is also given of improvements required in the next 12 months to achieve better results. This overview attempts to present a comprehensive picture of efforts directed at implementing Iceland’s national security policy since its adoption and until October 2018.
The National Security Council currently undertakes a review of national security policy at least every five years, intended as a comprehensive, overall re-assessment of the policy. During the period between reviews the Council may make proposals to the Althingi for amendments to the policy.
The National Security Council is a forum for regular consultation and co-ordination on national security.
The Secretary General of the National Security Council handles administrative tasks for the Council. The Secretary General shall endeavour to ensure that the issues discussed by the National Security Council are properly prepared and that appropriate consultation takes place between the parties. To this end the Secretary General is assisted by a group of contact persons consisting of representatives appointed by ministries, institutions and public corporations. The role of representatives in the contact group is to facilitate provision of information and reporting to the National Security Council pursuant to Art. 8 of the Act on the National Security Council, to consult with and provide advice to others as necessary in connection with the preparation of meetings of the National Security Council and in shaping its tasks.
Assessment of the current situation and future outlook in security and defence affairs
The National Security Council assesses the current situation and prospects for security and defence and discusses other issues relating to national security. The aim is to have a current, reliable and objective assessment of the defence and security situation always available, which can serve as the basis for the government in formulating policy and planning.
Consultation with the Civil Protection and Security Council
The National Security Council is to consult with the Civil Protection and Security Council on matters or events that may affect the latter's functions under the Civil Protection Act, No. 82/2008, i.e. regarding government policy on civil protection and security, which is drafted and adopted every three years.
Public education and democratic debate on national security issues
The National Security Council is to promote public education and information dissemination, as well as open and democratic debate, on national security issues in co-operation with the academic community, think tanks and the media.
Special meetings in connection with events which could affect national security
The National Security Council may convene specifically when events have occurred or are imminent which could affect national security.Under such circumstances, the Council’s role is to maintain an overview of any state of emergency and to promote co-ordinated measures to address the consequences of an emergency which may threaten Iceland’s independence or sovereignty, the integrity of its borders or security of citizens, and to protect the administrative system and infrastructure of the society.
- National Security Council Act No. 98, 20 September 2016
- Parliamentary resolution on a national security policy for Iceland No. 26/145 (Amended by the Althingi on 28 February 2023)