Security policy continues to be important
Security policy has become one of the most important issues for the Nordic Council in recent years, and the programme for the Icelandic Presidency in 2024 is also based on work that promotes peace and security, with particular focus on the Arctic. The Icelandic programme seeks to ensure that the strategically important Arctic region remains a low-tension military zone and to promote peaceful co-operation in international forums.
“The average temperature in the Arctic is rising faster than ever and the fact that the ice is melting is opening up new shipping corridors and opportunities to extract raw materials. What’s happening in the Arctic is important to people all over the world and countries far away from the area are really interested it. The Nordic countries are democracies where international law and human rights are valued. We must work together to make sure that developments in the Arctic are in line with our Nordic values,” says Bryndis Haraldsdóttir.
Other important themes in the programme include food security and security of supply in the Arctic.
“We must work for peace in the Arctic. Peace is a prerequisite for security and welfare. We will also see to it that attention is paid to the people of the Arctic’s own views and cultures. Food security and infrastructure are also important issues, as are initiatives to combat climate change,” says Oddný G. Harðardóttir.
Better linguistic balance
Another focus in 2024 will be ways of facilitating participation in Nordic co-operation on equal terms by those whose mother or national tongue is not one of the Scandinavian languages. One suggestion is to conduct a study of the potential for using new technology for translating and interpreting.
The programme aims to ensure that, as far as possible, everyone involved in Nordic co-operation is able to communicate in their mother tongue.
Gender equality and marginalised groups
The rights, opportunities and quality of life of minorities and marginalised groups, especially in the sparsely populated parts of the Nordic Region, are also on the agenda. The programme points out that the Nordic Region has received international recognition for the progress it has made in gender equality and LGBT+ rights and that it remains important to continue to work on these issues.
Focus on updating the Helsinki Treaty
At several points, the Icelandic programme refers to the ongoing process initiated by the Presidium of the Nordic Council to look at the possibility of updating the Helsinki Treaty, which regulates official Nordic co-operation. This process is mentioned as a specific focus for the Presidency, as part of which issues such as security policy, climate policy and the use of languages at Nordic Council meetings could be addressed.