The City of Reykjavík’s Human Rights Policy: Challenges, Dilemmas and Opportunities

Þorgerður H. Þorvaldsdóttir, Guðbjörg Lilja Hjartardóttir


The City of Reykjavík took the lead in promoting equality and human rights in Iceland when the City Council adopted the first human rights policy in 2006. The policy is based on international human rights law and principles of equality and non-discrimination. A questionnaire for the city’s managers and administrators, enquiring about their experience of the human rights policy, prejudice and the status of marginalized groups, demonstrated various challenges in implementing and promoting the policy. This is due, not the least, to the fact that the national legislation on ban on discrimination is limited to gender equality, thus halting further development in the field of human rights. The human rights policy is fairly well known by the city ́s managers and administrators. They apply the policy in their different and demanding jobs especially in human resource management but to a limited extent in finance management. The policy has thus proven to be a valuable instrument to bring about changes. The City of Reykjavik aims to achieve equality for all and to work against multiple discrimination. However, some of the marginalized groups seem more vulnerable to discrimination and marginalization than other groups, notably immigrants, people with disabilities and people with long-term health issues.


Reykjavik’s human rights policy; multiple discrimination; institutionalizing intersectionality; human rights city.

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