Iceland Crisis Response Unit (ICRU)
Since the fifties the Icelandic government has contributed personnel to various peacekeeping missions. Contributions to peace building and peacekeeping became an increasingly important part of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs' international activities in the nineties, leading to the founding of the Iceland Crisis Response Unit as a separate entity within the Ministry in 2001.
The activities of the ICRU consists mainly of contributions to multilateral organisations and secondments of civilian experts to the field. Since Iceland has no military forces, only civilian personnel are seconded. Civilian participation is seen as a vital bridge between conventional peacekeeping and economic development and is therefore very important in building and maintaining peace through a comprehensive approach. According to the Strategy for Iceland's International Development Cooperation, focus countries for peace building are Afghanistan and Palestine and emphasis is placed on cooperation with ISAF, UNRWA, UN Women, UNICEF, UNCHR and OCHA. Iceland's National Action Plan on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 on women, peace and security plays an important role in ICRU's work (see Annex VI). Before deployment, all seconded personnel receive education on gender equality and the implementation of UNSCR 1325 on women, peace and security. The National committee of UN Women in Iceland provides the education.
In recent years, ICRU has been striving for gender balance among seconded personnel. For the first time, in 2011, an equal number of men and women were seconded to the field, and were recruited for a similar length of time. The ICRU intends to maintain that balance.