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UN expert to assess impact of Iceland’s banking crisis on social and economic rights

GENEVA / REYKJAVIK (4 December 2014) – The United Nations Independent Expert on foreign debt, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, will visit Iceland from 8 to 15 December 2014 to gather information about the impact of the country’s financial collapse and its economic adjustment programme on the realization of human rights.

“I will pay close attention to how the banking crisis affected the right to work, social security, housing, health and education and particular social groups,” Mr. Bohoslavsky said, launching the first fact-finding mission to Iceland by an independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the impact of foreign debt on the enjoyment of human rights.

“Iceland is widely considered as having chosen a particular response to the financial crisis, and there have been efforts aimed at ensuring public participation, but as well political and judicial accountability,” he noted. 

The Independent Expert will also study the efforts undertaken by the Government of Iceland to avert negative social impacts for its own population.  “We need to know better what States can do to avert negative human rights impacts when they are facing a serious debt crisis or have to undergo painful economic adjustment,” he said.

Mr. Bohoslavsky, who visits the country at the invitation of the Icelandic authorities, will meet with senior Government officials from several ministries and State institutions. He will also meet with the President of the Supreme Court, Members of Parliament, the International Monetary Fund, ombudspersons, local human rights institutions, civil society and academic experts.

The Independent Expert will hold a press conference to share the preliminary findings of his visit on Monday 15 December 2014 at 11:30 AM, at the UN Centre Iceland  (Miðstöð Sameinuðu þjóðanna), Laugavegi 176, 5th floor, 105 Reykjyavik. 

His final findings and key recommendations will be presented in a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council next year.

ENDS

Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky was appointed as Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and human rights by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 8 May 2014.  Before, he worked as a Sovereign Debt Expert for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) where he coordinated an Expert Group on Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing. His mandate covers all countries and has most recently been renewed by Human Rights Council resolution 25/16. He is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. The mandate covers all countries. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Development/IEDebt/Pages/IEDebtIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Iceland: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/ISIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests please contact Mr. Gunnar Theissen (+41 22 917 9321, during the visit: +41 79 752 0483 gtheissen@ohchr.org) or write to ieforeigndebt@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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