Iceland’s External Affairs: Which world actors have and will provide Iceland with shelter?

12:00 - 14:00

We would like to invite you to a seminar in relations to the publication of a new and exciting book titled Small States and Shelter Theory: Iceland’s External Affairs, at the Nordic House October 23rd at 12 pm. The book presents a new theory on the behaviour of small states in the international system and examines Iceland’s external affairs from 1940 to the present in this relation.

Ever since the United States closed its military base in Keflavík and refused to help Iceland out during the 2008 economic crisis, Iceland has been seeking shelter by other world actors. Iceland works closely with NATO and its neighbouring states on security and defence, puts greater emphasis on Nordic cooperation, was the first European country to make a free trade agreement with China and applied for membership of the European Union. Moreover, many policy-makers in Iceland regard Brexit as an opportunity and hope to establish closer ties with Britain after it leaves the European Union. Nevertheless, Iceland has not been able to secure itself a comprehensive shelter similar to the shelter it was provided by the United States during the Cold War.

The aim of the seminar is to answer the questions: Which states and international organizations have provided Iceland with political, economic and societal shelter in the past; and which world actors will provide Iceland with shelter in the near future?

The book is published by Routledge in Britain and can be bought at the event, in Bóksala stúdenta and online at

The importance of shelter for small states
Iceland’s participation in the European project: Shelter or trap?
Baldur Þórhallsson, Professor of Political Science, University of Iceland

Do the Nordic states and Nordic cooperation provide Iceland with shelter?
Þorsteinn Kristinsson, PhD student, University of Lund, Sweden

Iceland’s relations with the United States: Shelter or risk?
Sverrir Steinsson, researcher and lecturer at the University of Iceland

Panel discussions:
Do the Nordic states provide Iceland with shelter?
Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir, Minister for Education and Culture

Does the United States provide Iceland with shelter?
Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Alþingi.

Does participation in the European project, particularly Schengen, provide Iceland with shelter?
Georg Kr. Lárusson, Director General of the Icelandic Coast Guard

Closing Address:
Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister, will give the closing remarks and discuss the position of Iceland in the international system

Chair: Pia Hansson, Director of the Centre for Small State Studies and the Institute of International Affairs

More information on the book can be found on this link: