Country up-date: Iceland
1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: Iceland is a global leader in the field of human rights, with 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 11th year in a row in 2019, which shows that gender equality has a prominent place in Iceland's both national and international priorities. In 2019, Iceland has continued to be at the forefront of promoting human rights issues and particularly gender equality at international level. Iceland has a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, where it has stressed in particular gender equality, the fight against gender-based violence, the rights of LGBTI persons and the rights of the child. In 2019, Iceland took over the Presidency of both the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Arctic Council, where gender issues featured among its priorities.
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 (UN, Council of Europe, OSCE). Iceland usually aligns itself with HRVP Declarations on human rights issues.
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 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 the International Day against Homophobia and the Reykjavik Pride Parade.
5. Multilateral context: Iceland's last UPR in November 2016 generally reflected Iceland's longstanding commitment to democracy and human rights, both at national and international level. During the subsequent adoption of its report, Iceland announced that of the 167 recommendations received, 112 were accepted and 14 were noted. The mid-term report on the activities of Iceland's inter-ministerial committee on human rights, which is in charge of coordinating the activities related to the UPR, was due to be published in the autumn of 2019. However, it is more likely to be published in early 2020.
Regarding the implementation process of the UPR recommendations - while 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 workplace in the course of 2018, as well as ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on Torture in 2019 - certain international human rights instruments remain to be ratified. These include the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICPPED) and the International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. The Icelandic government has again delayed legislation to establish a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), which was a major recommendation of the most recent UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodical Review (UPR). It is still likely that, once it eventually happens, the NHRI will be created out of the existing NGO umbrella body - the Icelandic Human Rights Centre.