International Co-operation on Human Rights in Crisis, Says Icelandic Director of European Institute Skip to content
Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir
Photo: Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir. A screenshot from RÚV.

International Co-operation on Human Rights in Crisis, Says Icelandic Director of European Institute

Icelander Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir will not continue as Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights after representatives from Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Turkey opposed extending her appointment, RÚV reports. Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs called the decision an attack on the organisation and a cause for concern. Ingibjörg says the incident shows there is no longer international agreement on basic values within human rights.

Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir has served as the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights since 2017. Before that, she enjoyed a long career in Icelandic politics. She was mayor of Reykjavík between 1994-2003, leader of the Social Democratic Alliance from 2005-2009, and Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2007 to 2009.

Troublesome Period for International Affairs

“I regret this decision and it is a cause for concern,” stated Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarsson. “Of course, this is nothing else than an attack on the organisation. Concerning our representatives, I, together with the vast majority of member states, am of the opinion that [Ingibjörg] has carried out her work with honesty and professionalism and in accordance with her mandate.”

Guðlaugur stated it was troubling that so few countries could upset the institution’s work in such a major way. “They are very few countries that have acted in this way. But it’s enough, because there has to be consensus on these matters. We are of course seeing now that these are troublesome times in international affairs and this is perhaps a manifestation of that.”

Reflection of Crisis Among International Organisations

“This did not come as a complete surprise to me,” Ingibjörg told RÚV when interviewed about her departure from the position. “I think it reflects the current crisis international organisations are in and the current shortage of truth. When the OSCE was founded in the early 1990s, everyone was very optimistic and there was agreement on certain basic principles in democracy and human rights issues. That’s not the case anymore. And this is a manifestation of that. And a manifestation of the fact that those who want to advance slowest in these areas, they have gotten the upper hand.”

One point of contention between Ingibjörg and Turkey’s representatives is their opposition to allowing certain NGOs to attend OSCE meetings. The representatives have gone so far as to call the NGOs terrorist organisations. “I cannot, on my own initiative, designate any organisation or call it a terrorist organisation just like that, that isn’t on any such lists. And there is no support for it either from other OSCE member states,” Ingibjörg stated.

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