Regional Issues

Iceland's Regional Co-Operation

Arctic Council
Iceland has been a member of the Arctic Council since it was established in 1996. Other members include the United States, Canada, Russia, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The Arctic Council is primarily concerned with co-operative efforts in the areas of environmental protection and sustainable development in the Arctic. Two Arctic Council programmes are based in Iceland, the CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Fauna and Flora) and PAME (Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment).

Council of Baltic Sea States
Established in 1992, the Council of the Baltic Sea States aims at promoting and facilitating co-operation between the member states in the areas of economy and trade, democracy and human rights, culture and education, communications, energy and environmental protection. Members include Germany, Russia, Polland, the three Baltic countries and the five Nordic countries, including Iceland. The European Commission also takes part in the work of the Council.

Iceland holds the Council of the Baltic Sea States Presidency 2016-2017. The priorities of the Presidency are children, equality and democracy, which Iceland believes form the foundation for a shared, sustainable and secure future for the region and its people. These priorities will therefore underpin the CBSS strategies for a stronger regional identity, a prosperous & sustainable region and a safe & secure region.

Council of Europe
The Council of Europe was founded in 1949. Iceland became a member in 1951. In July 1994, membership had risen from the original 10 to 32 members. The organization's headquarters are in Strasbourg, France. Iceland's Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe is resident in Strasbourg. Icelandic parliamentarians take part in the meetings of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe. Iceland has representatives on the European Commission on Human Rights and in the European Court of Human Rights and Icelandic officials take part in the work of the various bodies of the Council of Europe.

Barent Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC)
The Barent Euro-Arctic Council was established in 1993. Membership includes Russia and the five Nordic countries. The Council's activites extend both to the national as well as the regional level. It's primary aim is to facilitate co-operation in the Barent region in a number of issue areas including economic co-operation and environmental protection.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Iceland was a founding member of the Organization for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) in 1948. It also became a founding member of the successor body, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1961. The Ambassador of Iceland in Paris is the Permanent Representative of Iceland to the OECD Council, which has its headquarters in Paris.

Other organizations
Iceland is a member of several other regional organizations, including the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development).

Regional Co-operation in Environmental Affairs
Iceland emphasises the value of regional co-operation in environmental affairs. Iceland values highly the work of the OECD to promote sustainable development and in seeking policy solutions to integrate environmental considerations into all sectors of society. The work of the Arctic Council is of particular importance. Iceland took an active part in the establishment of the Council and views it as a key platform for the communities living in the Arctic in promoting sustainable development and environmental conservation. The Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy has proven a valuable framework for environmental protection in the Arctic. The Nordic Council is also a vital forum for regional environmental co-operation.

There are a number of important regional environmental conventions in which Iceland is an active partner. They include the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic and the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. Both these conventions have been instrumental in the protection of the environment and biological diversity in the North East Atlantic region.

Regional Co-operation for Sustainable Use of Marine Living Resources
Regional fisheries management organisations are of central importance in ensuring conservation and sustainable use of shared, migratory and straddling marine stocks. Towards this end, Iceland works actively with its neighbours at ensuring conservation and sustainable use of marine living resources in surrounding waters. This co-operation takes place through such regional organisations as the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO), the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO), the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO) and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).