Republic of Iceland
Joined United Nations: 19 November 1946
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 11 July 2012
313,183 (July 2011 est.)
Olaf Ragnar Grimmson
President since 1 August 1996
President, largely a ceremonial post, is elected by popular vote
for a four-year term (no term limits); election last held 30 June
Next scheduled election: June 2016
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
Prime Minister since 01 February 2009
Following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or
the leader of the majority coalition is usually the prime minister
Elections last held 25 April 2009
Elections to be held: 2013
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Homogeneous mixture of descendants of Norse and Celts 94%, population of foreign origin 6%
Lutheran Church of Iceland (official) 80.7%, Roman Catholic 2.5%, Reykjavik Free Church 2.4%, Hafnarfjorour
Free Church 1.6%, other religions 3.6%, unaffiliated 3%, other or unspecified 6.2% (2006 est.)
Constitutional republic comprised of 8 regions; Civil law system based on Danish law; has not accepted compulsory
Executive: President, largely a ceremonial post, is elected by popular vote for a four-year term (no term limits); election
last held 30 June 2012 (next to be held June 2016); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the
leader of the majority coalition is usually the prime minister
Legislative: Unicameral Parliament or Althing (63 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year
elections: last held 25 April 2009 (next to be held by May 2013)
Judicial: Supreme Court or Haestirettur (justices are appointed for life by the Minister of Justice); eight district
courts (justices are appointed for life by the Minister of Justice)
Icelandic, English, Nordic languages, German widely spoken
celand's Scandinavian-type social-market economy combines a capitalist structure and free-market principles with an
extensive welfare system. Prior to the 2008 crisis, Iceland had achieved high growth, low unemployment, and a
remarkably even distribution of income. The economy depends heavily on the fishing industry, which provides 40%
of export earnings, more than 12% of GDP, and employs 7% of the work force. It remains sensitive to declining fish
stocks as well as to fluctuations in world prices for its main exports: fish and fish products, aluminum, and
ferrosilicon. Iceland's economy has been diversifying into manufacturing and service industries in the last decade,
particularly within the fields of software production, biotechnology, and tourism. Abundant geothermal and
hydropower sources have attracted substantial foreign investment in the aluminum sector, boosted economic growth,
and sparked some interest from high-tech firms looking to establish data centers using cheap green energy, although
the financial crisis has put several investment projects on hold. Much of Iceland's economic growth in recent years
came as the result of a boom in domestic demand following the rapid expansion of the country's financial sector.
Domestic banks expanded aggressively in foreign markets, and consumers and businesses borrowed heavily in
foreign currencies, following the privatization of the banking sector in the early 2000s. Worsening global financial
conditions throughout 2008 resulted in a sharp depreciation of the krona vis-a-vis other major currencies. The
foreign exposure of Icelandic banks, whose loans and other assets totaled more than 10 times the country's GDP,
became unsustainable. Iceland's three largest banks collapsed in late 2008. The country secured over $10 billion in
loans from the IMF and other countries to stabilize its currency and financial sector, and to back government
guarantees for foreign deposits in Icelandic banks. GDP fell 6.8% in 2009, and unemployment peaked at 9.4% in
February 2009. GDP rose 2.4% in 2011 and unemployment declined to 6.0%. Since the collapse of Iceland's
financial sector, government economic priorities have included: stabilizing the krona, implementing capital controls,
reducing Iceland's high budget deficit, containing inflation, addressing high household debt, restructuring the financial
sector, and diversifying the economy. Three new banks were established to take over the domestic assets of the
collapsed banks. Two of them have foreign majority ownership, while the State holds a majority of the shares of the
third. Iceland began making payments to the UK, the Netherlands, and other claimants in late 2011 following
Iceland's Supreme Court ruling that upheld 2008 emergency legislation that gives priority to depositors for
compensation from failed Icelandic banks. Iceland owes British and Dutch authorities approximately $5.5 billion for
compensating British and Dutch citizens who lost deposits in Icesave when parent bank Landsbanki failed in 2008.
Iceland began accession negotiations with the EU in July 2010; however, public support has dropped substantially
because of concern about
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Iceland)
Politics of Iceland takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the
Prime Minister of Iceland is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. It is arguably the world's oldest
parliamentary democracy. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the
government and parliament, the Althing. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
The beginning of the millennium saw a merger of all the left parties to form the Social Democratic Alliance. Some
members chose to join another new left party instead, the Left-Green Movement. After the PP's loss in the 2007
elections its longstanding alliance with the IP ended despite still being able to form a majority. Instead the IP's leader
Geir Haarde chose a stronger but somewhat unstable coalition with the Social Democrats (the Þingvellir government).
Haarde's administration fell apart in January 2009 and he called for an early election before standing down as party
leader. The Social Democrats subsequently formed an interim government with the LGM. In the resulting election,
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir's administration prevailed, the first time Icelanders voted for a majority left-wing government
(the Nordic government).
Wikipedia: Politics of Iceland
Iceland, the UK, and Ireland dispute Denmark's claim that the Faroe Islands' continental shelf extends beyond 200
nm; the European Free Trade Association Surveillance Authority filed a suit against Iceland, claiming the country
violated the European Economic Area agreement in failing to pay minimum compensation to Icesave depositors
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
2011 Human Rights Report: Iceland
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012
Iceland is a constitutional parliamentary republic. The president is the head of state; a prime minister, usually the head of the
majority party, is head of government. There is a unicameral parliament (Althingi). In 2008 voters reelected Olafur Ragnar
Grimsson as president without opposition. After free and fair parliamentary elections in 2009, the Social Democratic Alliance (SDA)
and the Left-Green Movement formed a governing coalition led by Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir (SDA). Security forces
reported to civilian authorities.
Domestic violence and abuse of women and trafficking of persons--primarily women for prostitution--to and through the country
were the most serious problems reported during the year.
Other human rights problems included instances of authorities holding incarcerated juveniles and adults and pretrial detainees and
convicted prisoners in the same cell, the absence of a legal status for transgender persons, and anecdotal evidence of societal
discrimination against foreigners and persons who were not ethnic Icelanders.
There were no reports of officials committing abuses in the security services or elsewhere in the government.
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23 January 2012
Committee on the Rights of the Child
19 September – 7 October 2011
Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 44 of the Convention
Concluding observations: Iceland
2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the third and fourth periodic report as well as the written replies to its list of issues
(CRC/C/ICE/Q/3-4/Add.1) and commends the frank and self-critical nature of both the report and the replies to the list of issues,
which allow a better understanding of the situation of children in the State party. The Committee expresses appreciation for the
very constructive and open dialogue held with the crosssectoral delegation of the State party.
II. Follow-up measures undertaken and progress achieved by the State party
3. The Committee welcomes/notes as positive the adoption of the following legislative measures:
(a) The amendments to the Child Protection Act No. 80/2002 in 2011;
(b) The new Media Act No.38/2011;
III. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention
6. The Committee takes note of the deep financial crisis undergone by the State party since the crash of its banking system in 2008,
which had a severe impact on its ability to maintain the level of public investment and employment, which in turn impacted on
children and their families, especially on lower income families. However, the Committee notes with appreciation the State party’s
fiscal efforts to protect the rights of children, especially regarding special protection measures, and that it intends to redress the
budget cuts to social investment, including education and health, as its financial and economic situation steadily continues to
IV. Main areas of concern and recommendations
A. General measures of implementation (arts. 4, 42 and 44, paragraph 6, of the Convention)
The Committee’s previous recommendations
7. The Committee welcomes efforts by the State party to implement the Committee’s concluding observations on the State party’s
second periodic report. Nevertheless, the Committee notes that some of those concluding observations have not been sufficiently
8. The Committee urges the State party to take all necessary measures to address those recommendations from the concluding
observations of the second periodic report that have not yet been implemented or sufficiently implemented, including the remaining
declaration on article 37, lack of a data collection system, high dropout rate of immigrant children from school, and existence of the
double criminality requirement, and to provide adequate follow-up to the recommendations contained in the present concluding
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Iceland Law to Provide Unprecedented Protections for Journalists
Jun 18 2010 - 12:00am
Freedom House applauds Iceland’s efforts to turn the tide against a global decline in press freedom by voting to create the world’s
most powerful law to protect journalists, their sources and freedom of expression.
The proposed bill aims to make Iceland a safe-haven for investigative reporting by establishing protections for journalists and their
anonymous sources and shielding reporters from foreign libel judgments. Iceland’s parliament passed the Icelandic Modern Media
Initiative unanimously on Thursday, with only a single abstention. Exact wording of the legislation will now be written and voted on
to determine how the law will be enforced.
“At a time in which countries in every region of the world, democracies and non-democracies alike, are increasing restrictions on
freedom of expression and freedom of the press, a law like the one proposed by Iceland is an encouraging sign,” said Paula
Schriefer, director of advocacy at Freedom House.
Freedom of the Press 2010, Freedom House’s recently released annual report on press freedom, noted an eighth year of decline in
global press freedom citing various contributing factors including libel tourism, restrictive press legislation and violence against
journalists. Iceland is currently one of the top-ranked countries for press freedom in the report.
“Libel tourism and forcing journalists to reveal their sources create conditions that encourage self-censorship, so we applaud
Iceland’s efforts to reduce these threats to free expression,” said Freedom House’s freedom of expression officer, Courtney C.
Iceland is ranked Free in Freedom of the World 2010, Freedom House’s survey of political rights and civil liberties and Free in
Freedom of the Press 2010. For more information of Iceland visit:
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Amnesty Youth of the event on 17th June
15th June 2012
Robust Arms Trade Treaty
We celebrate this 17th June will youth Amnesty International organize petition for Arms Trade Agreement, which will subject a
conference held by the United Nations in July.
One person in the world dies every minute due to weapons and it is such more control of banana sales in the world than arms trade.
We will use this "banana-conceptual" and give people a banana downtown as we encourage them to sign.
Youth will meet in the office of Amnesty (Thingholtsstraeti 27, 101 Reykjavík) pm. 12:00 and so we in the sheriff garden (near
Salvation Army downtown), with signs, banners and petitions, ready to get lots of signatures to pressure world leaders to sign a
powerful weapon trade agreement.
We will be in the sheriff yard between 14-17.
MEETING Control Arms!
All are welcome to join!
See you at the office of Amnesty. 12:00 on 17th June :)
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EU: Put Rights at Heart of Migration Policy
Council Summit Should Endorse Approach Based on Human Rights Obligations
June 20, 2011
(Brussels) - European Union (EU) heads of state meeting in Brussels later this week should put human rights at the heart of EU
migration and asylum policy, Human Rights Watch said today. Migration is high on the agenda for the European Council summit on
June 23 and 24, 2011, with external border control, free movement inside the EU, the Common European Asylum system, and
migration cooperation with North Africa expected to be discussed.
Refugee Resettlement Needs
The EU should also increase its efforts to resettle recognized refugees from North Africa and elsewhere, by increasing national
quotas and moving swiftly to put plans for a joint European resettlement program into operation. So far, European countries have
offered to resettle some 700 refugees from North Africa and to relocate over 300 asylum seekers from Malta, reflecting the burden
faced by the tiny island nation of arrivals by sea.
Only 14 European countries have resettlement programs, including Iceland and Norway, which are not EU members. Globally, only
6 percent of resettled refugees end up in Europe. About 90 percent go to the United States, Canada, and Australia.
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The Permanent Mission of Iceland to the United Nations
Statement by H.E. Ambassador Gréta Gunnarsdóttir, Permanent Representative
United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty
9 July 2012
Iceland attaches great importance to the successful conclusion and implementation of an Arms Trade Treaty. We feel that the ATT
should set ambitious standards and establish legally binding criteria, reflecting existing frameworks and related conventions, including
on humanitarian law and international human rights. The treaty should not allow transfers when such fundamental rights are put at
The Treaty should encompass all types of transfers of weapons, including exports, imports, transit and transshipments, whether they
are sales or otherwise. It should include control of relevant services such as brokering, transport and financing.
Iceland believes that an ATT should encompass all conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons. It should also include
ammunitions, dual-use items, as well as technology and services in connection with production, development and maintenance of
such weapons. It is also essential for the treaty to specify requirements for end-user and end-use certificates for activities and
objects covered by the treaty.
National authorities should enforce an effective licensing system for arms transfers and services, backed by adequate sanctions. The
treaty should require that States keep proper records of arms transfers and there should be full public transparency as to these
transfers and treaty implementation. Adaptations of the harmonized customs classification system will be necessary as they will
greatly improve transparency in arms transfers.
The implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 and subsequent Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace and Security
are among the top priorities of the Government of Iceland.
It is well known that women and girls are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence.
It is vital that the treaty takes this into account and contains a specific gender-based violence criterion to prevent any such violence
against women and girls. Accordingly the treaty should require States to not allow an international transfer of conventional arms
where there is a substantial risk that the arms under consideration are likely to be used to perpetrate or facilitate acts of gender-based
violence, including rape and other forms of sexual violence. To apply this criterion, States must conduct a meaningful assessment of
that risk. It is equally important that the criterion acknowledges that both exporting and importing States have joint responsibility in
preventing gender-based violence against women.
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Human Rights Office Newsletter - June 2012
Newsletter Icelandic Human Rights, November 2011 - June 2012
Meeting on the results of the UN Children's Right Committee
On 17 November meeting was held in granaries where the Icelandic delegation presented the preparation and implementation of its
consideration of Iceland to the UN Human Rights Council (UPR), as well as presented the main findings of children's rights
committee. As discussed MRSÍ manager, together with other NGOs who were reports that due to report to children's rights
committee, the implementation of the Convention in Iceland and what improvements could be made.
Research Work of custody has
MRSÍ and Multicultural Centre received support from the Immigration Council to investigate the mechanism of custody upon
divorce if one parent is of foreign origin. At the beginning of 2012 was the start of data collection and processing of data is
expected that the results of this study lies in the second half of 2012.
Meeting with Human Rights Council
Video-visit-one full of rights of religious thomas-thomas Hamm Hamm rock Berg, Human Rights Council mission visited Iceland in
February. He met with the government, various institutions and organizations, and subsequently gave a report of recommendations
was put forward by the government. Human Rights held off for a meeting with Human Rights Officer and NGOs in Iceland held on
8th February at the Culture House. There were representatives of interest groups to share Independence Day and his comments to
the Commissioner for Human Rights.
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Opinions and other results
Officials. Appointment of police officers. Advertising of vacancies. Temporary sentences of police officers.
(Case no. 6276/2011)
A decision complained of Police to appoint C and D in the office of Police Commissioner of Police office in Akureyri. The
complaint alleged that the procedure for appointment to the offices had been lacking with regard to the qualifications of applicants.
Equality had not been taken in selecting applicants and the investigation had not been satisfactory .. Then type A including
comments to the candidates who had been appointed would have an advantage over other applicants because they had been placed
temporarily in the work at the office of chief of police for some time and that would be unfair to count them as income. A made
further comments on the statements of candidates had been appointed had not been advertised.
The examination of this matter was the agent cause to consider a general way of advertising jobs to be filled or placed in the State
of cancellations and substitute as an occupation or office. Agent decided on this occasion to put forward suggestions on the
significance of the heads could be the purpose behind the principle of commercial law should work for the government to mark the
sentences and hiring of temporary jobs for the cancellation and temporary.
The Ombudsman considered, however, that with regard to freedom of confession would grant makers by appointment to public
office and that are being appointed officers for general police work that it had no grounds to comment on the decision of Police to
appoint the said persons in the office of police . Then believed Agent unable to say that a violation of equality and rannsóknarreglu
the administrative proceedings.
The Ombudsman concluded that its examination of the matter by letter to the Police dated. 18th June 2012, with reference to a
point 2 paragraph. 10th Article. Act no. 85/1997, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, as an agent set out general guidelines for their
advertising activities, as well as he made certain comments on the proceedings, such as materials reasoning that failure would be
made would be an adequate explanation of the principles of submitted had been the basis for decisions on appointment to the
offices. Then the agent noted that, despite the legal rules that provide for the formal adoption of police officers that officials in the
absence of involvement of the National, anchor for the two persons appointed had been in the office of the complaint dealt with
were using data from the case for several months while working as police officers on the basis of employment contracts by the
police in Akureyri we made them.
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Iceland may be the Ultima Thule of the ancients. Irish monks visited it before the 9th cent., but abandoned it on the
arrival (c.850-875) of Norse settlers, many of whom had fled from the domination of Harold I . The Norse
settlements also contained many Irish and Scottish slaves, mainly women. In 930 a general assembly, the Althing,
was established near Reykjavík at Thingvellir, and Christianity was introduced c.1000 by the Norwegian Olaf I ,
although paganism seems to have survived for a time. These events are preserved in the literature of 13th-century
Iceland, where Old Norse literature reached its greatest flowering. (Modern Icelandic is virtually the same language
as that of the sagas.) Politically, Iceland became a feudal state, and the bloody civil wars of rival chieftains facilitated
Norwegian intervention. The attempt of Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241) to establish the full control of King Haakon
IV of Norway over Iceland was a failure; however, Haakon incorporated Iceland into the archdiocese of Trondheim
and between 1261 and 1264 obtained acknowledgment of his suzerainty by the Icelanders. Norwegian rule brought
order, but high taxes and an imposed judicial system caused much discontent. When, with Norway, Iceland passed
(1380) under the Danish crown, the Danes showed even less concern for Icelandic welfare; a national decline (1400-
1550) set in. Lutheranism was imposed by force (1539-51) over the opposition of Bishop Jon Aresson ; the
Reformation brought new intellectual activity. The 17th and 18th cent. were, in many ways, disastrous for Iceland.
English, Spanish, and Algerian pirates raided the coasts and ruined trade; epidemics and volcanic eruptions killed a
large part of the population; and the creation (1602) of a private trading company at Copenhagen, with exclusive
rights to the Iceland trade, caused economic ruin. The private trade monopoly was at last revoked in 1771 and
transferred to the Danish crown, and in 1786 trade with Iceland was opened to all Danish and Norwegian
merchants. The exclusion of foreign traders was lifted in 1854. The 19th cent. brought a rebirth of national culture
(see Icelandic literature ) and strong agitation for independence. The great leader of this movement was Jón
Sigurðsson . The Althing, abolished in 1800, was reestablished in 1843; in 1874 a constitution and limited home rule
were granted; and in 1918, Iceland became a sovereign state in personal union with Denmark. The German
occupation (1940) of Denmark in World War II gave the Althing an opportunity to assume the king's prerogatives
and the control of foreign affairs. Great Britain sent (1940) a military force to defend the island from possible German
attack, and this was replaced after 1941 by U.S. forces. In 1944 an overwhelming majority of Icelanders voted to
terminate the union with Denmark; the kingdom of Iceland was proclaimed an independent republic on June 17,
1944. Sveinn Björrnsson was the first president. Iceland was admitted to the United Nations in 1946; it joined in the
Marshall Plan and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In 1946, Iceland granted the United States the right to use
the American-built airport at Keflavík for military as well as commercial planes. Under a 1951 defense pact, U.S.
troops were stationed there. Björnsson was succeeded by Ásgeir Ásgeirsson. Relations with Great Britain were
strained when Iceland, in order to protect its vital fishing industry, extended (1958) the limits of its territorial waters
from 4 to 12 mi (6.4-19.3 km). The conflict, which at times led to exchanges of fire between Icelandic coast guard
vessels and British destroyers, was resolved in 1961 when Great Britain accepted the new limits. Kristjárn Eldjárn
was elected president in 1968 and reelected in 1972 and 1976. Iceland joined the European Free Trade Association
in 1970. In 1971 elections the Independence party-Social Democratic party coalition government, which had
governed for 12 years, lost its majority, and a leftist coalition came to power. The dispute with Britain over fishing
rights (widely known as the "cod wars" ) was renewed in 1972 when Iceland unilaterally extended its territorial
waters to 50 mi (80 km) offshore and forbade foreign fishing vessels in the new zone. An interim agreement was
reached in 1973, whereby the British would limit their annual catch and restrict themselves to certain fishing areas
and specified numbers and types of vessels. In Jan., 1973, the Helgafell volcano on Heimaey island erupted,
damaging the town of Vestmannaeyjar. Later in the year Iceland and the United States began revising the 1951
defense pact, with a view toward ending the U.S. military presence. U.S. forces still use the NATO base at Keflavík
Airport, and their presence continues to be a point of contention among Iceland's parties. A split in the ruling
coalition over economic policies caused the Althing to be dissolved in 1974; following elections, the Independence
party formed a new government. Iceland extended its fishing limits to 200 mi (320 km) in 1975, which, after more
skirmishes with Great Britain, was finally recognized in 1976. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was elected president in 1980,
thus becoming the world's first popularly elected female head of state; she was reelected in 1984, 1988, and 1992.
Davíð Oddsson, of the conservative Independence party, became prime minister in 1991; his center-right coalition
was returned to office in 1995, 1999, and, narrowly, 2003. In 1996, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson was elected to
succeed Finnbogadóttir, who retired as president. The highly popular Grímsson was reappointed to the post by
parliament without an election in 2000; he was reelected in 2004. Oddsson resigned and exchanged posts with
coalition partner and foreign minister Halldór Ásgrímsson, of the Progressive party, in Sept., 2004 (Oddsson
stepped down as foreign minister a year later). In June, 2006, after the Progressive party suffered losses in local
elections, Ásgrímsson resigned as prime minister; he was succeeded in the post by Geir Hilmar Haarde, the foreign
minister and a member of the Independence party. Following the resignation of Haarde in response to his
involvement in the Icelandic financial crisis a coalition government of the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-
Green Movement, headed by Johanna SIGURDARDOTTIR, assumed office 1 February 2009. The ruling coalition
was victorious at a special legislative election held on 25 April 2009.On 28 September 2010, Iceland's parliament,
Althing, voted 33–30 to indict Geir, but not the other ministers, on charges of negligence in office at a session. Geir
Haarde was found guilty on one of four charges on 23 April 2012
Sources: Wikipedia; History of Iceland; Wikipedia; 2008-2012 Icelandic financial crisis;
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Isolated reports of women trafficked to, through, and possibly from the country