1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: Iceland has a very high standard of human rights and a high level of cooperation with international organisations on human rights issues. The World Economic Forum put Iceland on the top of the Global Gender Gap Index for the 10th year in a row in 2018, which shows that gender equality has a prominent place in Iceland's both national and international priorities. In 2018, Iceland took the seat vacated by the US on the UN Human Rights Council, where it has particularly stressed gender equality, the fight against gender-based violence, LGBTI rights and rights of the child. In 2019, Iceland will take over the Presidency of both the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Arctic Council, where gender equality will also feature among the priorities.
Nonetheless, in the public debate, there was some controversy after the national broadcaster reported on allegations of the exploitation of foreign workers. Iceland has furthermore been criticised by the Red Cross for the blanket use of dental analysis when processing asylum seekers.
2. EU Action – key focus areas: Iceland is a like-minded partner of the EU in the field of human rights and close cooperation takes place in various multilateral forums (United Nations, Council of Europe, OSCE).
3. EU bilateral political engagement: In general, Iceland has good mechanisms in place to assure the protection of human rights within its territory. Possible issues are best addressed in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in the UN Human Rights Council.
4. EU financial engagement: Iceland is not included in any operational projects or programmes funded by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) or other EU instruments.
However, the EU Delegation in Reykjavik has undertaken several Public Diplomacy and Information activities to showcase the EU's action on promoting human rights and to maintain a dialogue with the main human rights organisations active in Iceland. These activities were amongst others organised in the context of human rights related events, such as International Women's Day, the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and Reykjavik Pride Parade.
5. Multilateral context: Iceland's last UPR in November 2016 generally reflected its longstanding commitment to democracy and human rights both nationally and internationally. During the subsequent adoption of the report of Iceland on 4 November 2016, Iceland announced that of the 167 recommendations received, 112 were accepted and 14 were noted. Iceland's inter-ministerial committee on human rights, in charge of coordinating the activities related to the UPR, is preparing a mid-term report for the autumn 2019.
Regarding the implementation process of the UPR recommendations, Iceland ratified the convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul convention) and adopted legislation on a general framework for the prohibition of discrimination on ethnic and racial grounds and on the prohibition of discrimination in the workplace in the course of 2018. In 2019, the Icelandic government is inter alia planning to table legislation for the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution.
Please consult here the 2018 updates to the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World: https://eeas.europa.eu/sites/eeas/files/complete_eu_country_updates_on_human_rights_and_democracy_in_the_world_2018.pdf