Ávarp Katrínar Jakobsdóttur forsætisráðherra við almennar umræður á leiðtogafundi Evrópuráðsins 17. maí 2023
Madam Secretary General, dear colleagues,
Iceland´s presidency of the Council of Europe has been shaped by Russia’s invasion into Ukraine.
We must continue to support Ukraine and its people, striving for a just peace that fully respects international law, and Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
This requires accountability for human rights violations and international crimes committed. We have to pay special attention to women and girls who have been raped, tortured and trafficked. Iceland is prepared to do its part to assist victims of gender-based violence
The Council has demonstrated its ability to support Ukraine in the pursuit of justice and reconstruction of society and state.
We are proud of the progress made during our presidency, as reflected in the Outcome Document.
Regrettably, we have seen serious democratic backsliding and a rise in authoritarianism around the globe.
As Iceland assumed the Presidency, we recognised the need to focus on our fundamental principles of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.
Our Presidency has also advocated for the rights of women and girls, the environment, and children and youth.
Climate change poses a significant threat to human rights globally; responding to it with meaningful climate action is our greatest generational challenge.
Iceland has highlighted the link between human rights and the environment and worked to strengthen efforts to promote the right to a clean and healthy environment.
I welcome the renewed focus on environmental issues but the Council of Europe should lead the way with more decisive action.
We emphasized protecting the rights of children and young people as every child has the right to grow up in health, peace and dignity. We fully support the special emphasis that the Council has placed on the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children.
Iceland remains committed to gender equality and protecting the rights of LGBTI+ persons. Also in preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence through the Istanbul Convention.
I urge the Member States to finish ratifying the Convention.
Finally, we underlined the importance of addressing the extremely rapid technological changes, particularly in AI, that can threaten democracy and human rights.
The Council should lead in establishing new standards regarding AI to safeguard human rights.
The freedoms that the Council of Europe guarantees represent a life worth living, with dignity, meaning and free from oppression.
We have come together because these freedoms are under attack in war with other threats on the horizon.
We have been here before and we know this story has many possible endings.
Let us recommit to the purpose of the Council of Europe and work towards ensuring a new era of peace and respect in our continent, and the continuation of our common cause – Europe.