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1st UN Human Rights Chief visit to Iceland

High Commissioner Pillay delivers lecture at the University of Iceland © Iceland MFAIn issuing the invitation to the High Commissioner, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland, Össur Skarphéðinsson emphasized his Government’s commitment to human rights saying the, “promotion and protection of human rights is one of the cornerstones of the policy of the Government of Iceland”.

At meetings with the Foreign Minister and with the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Ragna Árnadóttir, the High Commissioner stressed the importance of ratification of additional international human rights treaties, including the Optional Protocols on the Convention against Torture and the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Pillay commended Iceland for the significant progress it has achieved through recent legislation removing legal impediments to same sex marriages, strengthening the independence of the judiciary and freedom of expression, and welcomed efforts to set up an independent national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles. Pillay also had an informative and constructive meeting with representatives of civil society organizations, the academic community and various UN agencies.

In a speech to an open meeting at the University of Iceland, attended also by representatives of the Parliament and the judiciary, Pillay outlined the six thematic priorities of her office: the strengthening of the wider human rights system; combating impunity, discrimination, conflict, and poverty; and the challenge posed by unprecedented levels of migration.

Read the full text of the High Commissioner’s speech.

18 June 2010