Iran to Chair UN Human Rights Forum on Thursday, Sparking Protests

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

GENEVA, October 30 — Iran will become chair of a UN human rights forum on Thursday, sparking an international protest campaign from human rights activists who say Tehran’s record of oppression, torture and executions make it ill-suited for the post.

The regime was appointed in May by the president of the UN Human Rights Council, to be Chair of the UN Human Rights Council Social Forum.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell defended Iran’s appointment as a matter of regional rotation, “in consistency with established UN procedures.”

But UN Watch research shows in fact that the Asian group, to which Iran belongs, has held the position four times in the past six years, to the exclusion of other regional groups.

Iran’s appointment can be overturned by a special meeting of the council before Thursday, said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, an independent non-governmental human rights organization based in Geneva, which has drafted a resolution for countries to adopt.

UN Watch has been a leading voice at the United Nations on human rights in Iran.

UN Watch’s campaign is backed by a global petition signed by more than 90,00 people, calling on the UN to overturn Iran’s chairmanship of the UN human rights forum.

The group today launched a social media campaign, and a video of Neuer’s recent appearance before the UN human rights council, where he challenged Iran’s appointment, is going viral with more than a million views since its release this afternoon.

“We are calling on Mr. Borrell to take action. It’s time for all democracies at the UN to stop legitimizing murderous regimes, in violation of the world body’s founding principles, and instead to begin holding the perpetrators to account,” said Neuer.

“The murderous regime in Tehran is responsible for a surge in executions, disproportionately applied to minorities, and for oppressing women and girls. The recent death of 16-year-old Armita Geravand, after being assaulted on the subway by the Iranian morality police for not wearing the compulsory hijab, is a reminder that this is a cruel regime that does not belong on any UN human rights body, let alone as chair.”

“It is unimaginable that on Thursday at the UN human rights council, Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative will be holding the gavel, with UN human rights chief Volcker Turk and other dignitaries at his side,” said Neuer.

“These appointments send the wrong message at the wrong time, enabling the Islamic Republic of Iran — even as it is shooting protesters in the face, raping human rights defenders in prison, and sponsoring Hamas atrocities — to strut on the international stage as a respected and influential actor.”

“No less, the regime is able to proclaim victory to its people — witness the instant declarations in state-controlled Mehr News Agency and Islamic Republic News Agency — in order to dishearten, dispirit and demoralize dissidents,” said Neuer.

“Iran’s regime never should have been chosen. Sadly, inside the UN, too many country delegations seek to go along to get along. In their closed world of backroom deals, a bloody dictatorship is every inch the equal of a liberal democracy. Democracies that pay lip service to the high principles of the UN Charter too often ignore them when making critical UN decisions.”

“It is quite extraordinary that at the very moment when the Human Rights Council mandates an investigation into very serious allegations of human rights violations by a country, it chooses to take decisions which appear quite contradictory by the majority of the public.”
Sara Hossain, Chair of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran


“The United States is appalled that the Iranian Ambassador in Geneva may serve as the Chair-Rapporteur of the Social Forum… The appointment of a representative to a country with such a deplorable human rights record severely undermines the credibility and purpose of both the UN Human Rights Council and the Social Forum.  It is abhorrent that Iran…would serve at the helm of this or any human rights-related event. We call upon all UN Human Rights Council member and observer states to prioritize the credibility and integrity of the Council by making decisions that truly embody the principles and values this body stands for.”


UN Watch