Population: 295,000 (78,000 under 18)
Government Armed Forces: none
Compulsary Recruitment Age: not applicable
Voluntary Recruitment Age: not applicable
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: ratified 1 October 2001
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182, ICC

There were no armed forces and no evidence of child recruitment or use.


National recruitment legislation and practice

Iceland had no armed forces, although it was a founder member of NATO (1949), which remained central to its security policy. A 1951 bilateral agreement with the United States provided for Iceland's territorial defence, and approximately 2,200 US armed forces personnel (the Iceland Defence Force) were stationed at Keflavik (chiefly for the purpose of North Atlantic air defence) until the station's closure in 2006. The Icelandic Crisis Response Unit (ICRU), a register of approximately 200 volunteers from a range of professions, provided personnel for a variety of international peacekeeping missions.1

In its July 2005 Initial Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Child on implementation of the Optional Protocol, which had come into force in Iceland in February 2002, the government stated that "the rule in Iceland is that international agreements do not automatically acquire the force of law in the country, even though Iceland is a party to them". Nevertheless, it also emphasized that the current practice was to interpret current legislation in the light of international obligations. Icelandic courts were also said to be increasingly linking their judgments to the country's commitments under international human rights law.2


The Icelandic Red Cross, which received funds from the government, in October 2004 organized a national financial appeal for the assistance of children involved in or otherwise affected by armed conflict. The appeal included the distribution of information materials and television programs, and awareness events were held in schools and offices.3

In June 2006 the Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed its concern that the absence of armed forces in the country itself did not preclude "the possibility of individuals or groups undertaking efforts to recruit children for foreign armed forces or groups", and recommended that Iceland explicitly criminalize the recruitment of children under the age of 15 into armed forces or armed groups and their direct participation in hostilities. The Committee also called on the government to establish extraterritorial jurisdiction for these crimes when perpetrated by or against an Icelandic citizen or an individual connected in some way with Iceland.4

1 Security Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, www.mfa.is/; Iceland's Security Co-operation: Iceland and NATO, www.iceland.org/; confidential information October 2007.

2 Initial report of Iceland to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on implementation of the Optional Protocol, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/ISL/1, 15 July 2005.

3 Ibid.

4 Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of report submitted by Iceland, Concluding observations, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/ISL/CO/1, 21 June 2006.


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