Ambassador positions will be advertised more publicly and criteria for their appointment tightened if amendments proposed by the Foreign Affairs Minister are implemented. The proposed changes include capping the number of ambassadors at 30, outlining the jobs’ requirements in law, and making advertising of the positions mandatory.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson says the proposed changes to the Foreign Service Act would rectify the shortcomings of the current process used to appoint Iceland’s ambassadors. “These changes ensure the necessary balance between firmness and flexibility within the foreign service, as knowledge and experience of international affairs form the core without missing the opportunity to also utilise the talents and experience of individuals from other areas of society,” Guðlaugur stated in an interview with Morgunblaðið. He added that the amendments would also promote equal rights, increasing opportunities for women within the foreign service.
Guðlaugur has not appointed any new ambassadors since he took office as Foreign Minister in January of 2017. In that time, their number has decreased from 40 to 36.
In November 2018, the recorded conversation of six MPs at a bar in downtown Reykjavík, which later became known as the Klaustur scandal, revealed that Former Prime Minister Geir Haarde was appointed to an ambassadorial position as a political favour. Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, who appointed Geir to the position, also stated that he appointed his cousin Árni Þór Sigurðsson as a distraction from the former appointment.
Currently, the Minister for Foreign Affairs is permitted to appoint ambassadors without advertising their positions publicly. That would change in most cases if the amendments are passed.