Third Committee - Statement by Iceland
H.E. Ambassador Gréta Gunnarsdóttir
GA67 / 3rd Committee
Item 67: Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
Item 68: Right of peoples to self-determination
6 November 2012
Let me first turn to the issue of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance before discussing the right to self-determination.
Iceland is committed to fight racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Icelandic 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. In addition, The Penal Code also makes it clear that any kind of hate speech against a person or a group of persons based on their nationality, ethnicity, race, religion or sexual orientation is not tolerated. Hate speech that violates the human rights of individuals is not protected by free speech. This was just recently reaffirmed by a landmark European Court of Human Rights judgment where hate speech aimed at sexual orientation was found not to be protected by the freedom of expression.
Allow me at the same time to reaffirm that Iceland deeply values the freedom of expression as a fundamental right. As an example of this commitment, the Government has undertaken a comprehensive review of its laws based on a parliamentary resolution from 2010 that called for the introduction of the strongest free speech laws drawn from around the globe into Icelandic law.
For these purposes a committee of government experts and representatives from media and civil society has been collecting best practices from around the world. This resulted in a progress report to Parliament last month with an overview of some suggested changes to Icelandic law.
It is essential to work towards the universal adherence and full implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination on All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). We urge all States, who have not yet done so, to become parties to the convention. The Convention is as actual as ever bearing in mind daily expressions of racism around the world, including in sports such as soccer, where we applaud FIFA for its strong stance against this scourge.
Allow me finally to reaffirm Iceland´s continued support for 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.
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.
Iceland is determined to contribute to the realization of the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The Palestinians continue to look to the United Nations to help them realize this right. Accordingly, Iceland continues to call upon the Security Council to recommend to the General Assembly to accept Palestine´s application for UN membership. In the meantime, Iceland will support Palestine´s application for a permanent observer status as a non-member state should the Palestinians decide to pursue that path. The ultimate objective, however, remains for Palestine to become a full Member State.
Thank you, Madam Chair