3rd comittee - Statement by Iceland
H.E. Ambassador Gréta Gunnarsdóttir
3rd Committee / 37th meeting
31 October 2011
Let me first turn to the issue of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance before discussing the right to self-determination.
None of our societies is completely free of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia or related intolerance. It is our joint obligation to recognize this and join in our efforts to address this scourge with conviction and commitment. Never taking it lightly, never allowing it to fester and take root. The struggle must include a commitment to raise awareness, teach tolerance, understanding and mutual acceptance.
It is essential to work towards the universal adherence and full implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination on All Forms of Racism (CERD). We urge all States, who have not yet done so, to become parties to the convention.
Iceland supports the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action as well as the outcome document of the Durban Review Conference. We see them as important tools in dealing with the scourge of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. By reasserting the principles of equality and non-discrimination as core human rights – the DDPA transforms victims of discrimination into rights holders and States into duty bearers.
Iceland is committed to eliminating racism and racial discrimination. Article 65 of the Constitution prohibits discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, and two provisions in the General Penal Code specifically safeguard against such discrimination.
However, increasing immigration to Iceland in the last decade has called for specific measures and legislation to combat discrimination and racism. A survey in 2009 on attitudes of the general public towards minority groups in Iceland revealed that 57% thought that discrimination based on race or ethnicity was common in Iceland. The Government has in place an Action Plan on Immigrants' Issues to address this and various projects and studies supported by the Ministry of Welfare are aimed at combating racism and racial discrimination.
Turning to the issue of self-determination, Iceland would like to reiterate its long standing support to people’s right to determine their future. The principle of self-determination is enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and should be respected as an inalienable right. In that way we were happy to welcome South-Sudan as a newly independent state and a member of the United Nations this summer.
Iceland is also determined to contribute to the realization of the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self determination. The Government of Iceland has taken steps at the domestic level towards the recognition of Palestine by putting forward a proposal for a parliamentary resolution on the recognition of Palestine as an independent and sovereign state within the pre-1967 borders. The proposal is currently being discussed by the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament.
Similarly, we firmly support Palestine’s application to be accepted as the 194th Member State of the United Nations.
Thank you, Mr. Chair