ISHR report on CERD's examination of Iceland, 25 February 2010
Monday, 08 March 2010 16:51


Iceland appeared before the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination on 25 and 26 February 2010.[1] The delegation of Iceland was led by Mr Kristinn F. Arnason, the Permanent Representative of Permanent Mission of Iceland at Geneva. He was supported by officers and experts from several governmental institutions.[2] The Committee commended its timely submission of the periodic report and was satisfied with situation in Iceland, with few concerns raised during the dialogue.


Many Committee Members emphasised the need to incorporate the Convention into Icelandic domestic law and the lack of comprehensive and exhaustive anti-discrimination legislation. The State responded that firstly there is no discrepancy between the Convention and its domestic law, and secondly the incorporation of international conventions is in process of starting from the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In response to recommendations to establish a national human rights institution, the State explained it had many different institutions with specific human rights tasks that function better than one institution, Committee Members were not convinced and even suggested renaming its ‘Human Rights Centre’ to ‘Human Rights Commission’ so as to satisfy this requirement. The Committee was glad to be confirmed that the Human Rights Centre was still receiving funds from the Government and was working well.


Another key topic concerned immigration. The State agreed with the Committee on the concerns about discrimination against visibly different persons’ access to public places and about the proportionally higher increased unemployment rate of immigrants than citizens during the financial crisis. Concerning the former, the Committee recommended that the State strengthen investigation and provide training to educate people that everyone has equal access to public places. For the latter, they admitted that the country had suffered from the financial crisis and the Government was also concerned with possible anti-immigrant sentiment. It claimed it would continue to do research to identify the underlying reasons and resolutions and take special programmes against discrimination. The Committee also expressed concerns on the difficulty in getting citizenship, with the requirement of passing a test in Icelandic, and well as the lack of clarity on the rights of asylum seekers in the Act on Foreign Nationals. The Committee appreciated Iceland’s new law to grant work permits directly to foreign employees, making it easier for them to change jobs, and encouraged the State to further protect foreign workers’ rights. The country rapporteur expressed the expectation of further integration of immigrants into society besides the granting of citizenship.


Among the other issues raised during the session were: the need to introduce different religions to young people in school; the need to ensure that the age limit for foreign spouses to prevent sham marriages do not create injustice; the rights of children unaccompanied or without documents; violence against women especially immigrants women; and to share with other States its expertise in exploiting fishery resources and geothermal energy, as well as scientific expertise related to climate change.


The Committee thanked the delegation for trying to answer all questions during the interactive dialogue and again commended Iceland’s achievements.

[1] Iceland's 19th and 20th periodic report, 76th session of CERD. Reports were also submitted by the Human Rights Centre. All these reports and the Committee's Concluding Observations are available at

[2] Permanent Representative, Deputy Permanent Representative, and 1st Secretary at Geneva; Director of Family Law and Immigration, Ministry of Justice and HR; Head of Division, Department of Equality and Labour, Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Security; Legal expert, Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 August 2010 09:43
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