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Cablegate: Icelanders Agree Procedural Issues Should Be Focus

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C O N F I D E N T I A L REYKJAVIK 000218

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/15/2016
TAGS: PHUM PREL IC
SUBJECT: ICELANDERS AGREE PROCEDURAL ISSUES SHOULD BE FOCUS
OF FIRST UNHRC SESSION

REF: SECSTATE 94561

Classified By: AMBASSADOR CAROL VAN VOORST, REASONS 1.4 (B)
AND (D).

1. (C) SUMMARY. In meetings with Embassy officials June 13
and 14, Icelandic MFA officials indicated agreement on most
key issues for the June 19-30 first session of the UN Human
Rights Council (HRC). The Declaration on Rights of Indigenous
Peoples may prove to be a sticking point, as Nordic
solidarity dictates that Iceland should not openly oppose
what has been a Norwegian priority. End Summary.

2. (U) Poloff discussed reftel demarche with MFA Political
Department Human Rights Officer Ingibjorg Davidsdottir June
13. The Ambassador followed up June 14 with a call on MFA
Permanent Secretary Gunnar Snorri Gunnarsson in which she
emphasized establishing effective HRC processes and
maintaining a lean agenda, and outlined the potential
problems with the Declaration on Rights of Indigenous
Peoples. Both Davidsdottir and Gunnarsson expressed sympathy
with U.S. views but said final decisions on Icelandic
positions would need to be cleared by new Foreign Minister
Valgerdur Sverrisdottir (note: who took office June 15; end
note). Sverrisdottir may herself travel to Geneva for the
HRC session.

NATURE OF THE FIRST SESSION
---------------------------
3. (C) Iceland MFA officials agree that the first session of
the HRC must avoid the rancor of the organization's
predecessor body by eschewing country-specific resolutions
such as those that the Organization of the Islamic Conference
may intend to raise against Israel. That said, Iceland
will/will take positions on any country resolutions that do

get discussed.

ESTABLISHMENT OF WORKING GROUPS
-------------------------------
4. (C) The GOI agrees that there must be a review of Human
Rights Commission mandates and that older mandates and
special procedures (rapporteurs) should be extended one year
for review -- indeed, Davidsdottir said she saw no realistic
alternative. She added, however, that as Iceland has a
member on the Sub-Commission on Human Rights the GOI probably
would not speak out in favor of that body's elimination.

5. (C) Davidsdottir agrees that there should be a working
group to establish the processes and rules for the new
Universal Periodic Review mechanism.

DECLARATION ON RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
-------------------------------------------

6. (C) The Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples
presents the main impediment to full Icelandic cooperation
with the U.S. in Geneva. While Davidsdottir personally
shares our concern that the Declaration's text is seriously
flawed, she and Gunnarsson asserted that Iceland's equities
lie with following the Scandinavian lead in supporting the
document. Iceland is the only Nordic country without an
indigenous population.

7. (C) Comment: As Sverrisdottir, who comes from six years
at Iceland's Ministry of Industry and Commerce, is a foreign
affairs neophyte, we expect her to accept the MFA career
officials' advice on what positions Iceland should take at
the HRC. Unfortunately, that is likely to include going
along with the other Nordics in their outreach to indigenous
peoples. End comment.
Van Voorst

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