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UN Shows Strong Support for Human Rights in Iran with 83-to-36 Vote


 (November 19, 2013) – The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran welcomes the United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee vote today overwhelmingly supporting human rights in Iran, and urges the Iranian government to comply with UN human rights mechanisms and take concrete steps to address the ongoing violations in the country.

Resolution A/C.3/68/L.57 on the promotion and protection of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran passed today with a vote of 83 in favor, 36 against, and 62 abstentions. All delegates who spoke today expressed their condolences for the victims of the violent attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut earlier today.

“The Third Committee’s decision to adopt another resolution on Iran’s human rights situation indicates that despite a new government in Tehran, major human rights violations are still taking place and some may even have accelerated,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “The UN is keeping the world’s focus on the appalling status of human rights in Iran.”

This year’s resolution focuses on Iran’s exorbitant execution rate and calls upon the government of Iran “to address … substantive concerns … and to respect fully its human rights obligations, in law and in practice.” The resolution specifically asks Iran to eliminate “amputations, flogging, blinding and other forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” as well as “public executions and other executions carried out in the absence of respect for internationally recognized safeguards.” In October 2013, the Campaign and the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center reported that Iran had already executed 125 individuals since Rouhani’s August inauguration. That number has now exceeded 200 hangings.

In addition to the ongoing systematic violations cited in previous years, this year’s resolution also adds an explicit push for the promotion of women’s rights, “to promote women’s participation in decision-making positions, and … to lift all restrictions on women’s equal access to all aspects of university education.”

“The tremendous international support for this resolution sends a clear message to the Iranian leadership that the world will not turn a blind eye to Iran’s human rights crisis,” said Ghaemi. “The Iranian government should acknowledge the issues raised by the international community, put an end to years of denying the ongoing human rights issues in the country, and act more responsibly towards improving the current situation.”

The Third Committee resolution welcomes the many pledges newly elected President Hassan Rouhani has made in the area of human rights, “particularly on eliminating discrimination against women and members of ethnic minorities, to promote freedom of expression and opinion, as well as the president’s proposal to implement a civil rights charter.” It also welcomes the release of dozens of prisoners of conscience, and further calls for the release of “all those who have been arbitrarily arrested and detained for exercising their rights to freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and participating in peaceful protests about political, economic, environmental or other issues.”

However, the resolution does express concern over the closed process of candidate selection during the election, “including the exclusion of all women candidates, and the further erosion of democratic space for political activities prior to the elections.”

Shortly before the vote, two countries joined the resolution as co-sponsors: Monaco and Vanuatu. Today’s resolution enjoyed broad cross-regional support, especially from Latin American, Caribbean, and European countries. Before the vote on human rights in Iran, the Third Committee adopted resolutions on the situations of human rights in Syria and North Korea, both of which voted against the resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights in Iran.

Several delegates spoke to explain their country’s votes. While all expressed their condolences for the governments and families of the victims of today’s violent attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, the Syrian ambassador explicitly condemned the idea of voting on a draft resolution on human rights in Iran on the same day as such an attack. Iran, Syria, Belarus, Cuba, North Korea, Djibouti, Venezuela, Russia, and Ecuador all spoke before the vote to emphasize the importance of the Universal Periodic Review and to say that the country-specific resolution was politicized and therefore they would vote against it.

Indonesia, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Japan, and New Zealand spoke after the vote, noting the positive developments since the election of President Hassan Rouhani and encouraging Iran to continue to improve its human rights record. Uruguay, Costa Rica, and France also wished to give a statement, but since the meeting exceeded the amount of time the translators were present, they agreed to submit their statements on the morning of Thursday, November 21.

Today’s vote marks the tenth consecutive year the UN General Assembly Third Committee has passed a resolution promoting human rights in Iran. Since the election of President Hassan Rouhani this past June, the UN has noted improvements in certain areas of human rights, and has been encouraging the country to continue to address its human rights violations.

The Campaign welcomes the broad international support for the promotion and protection of human rights in Iran, and urges President Rouhani and the Supreme Leader to enact necessary changes to improve the situation of human rights in Iran and cooperate with UN mechanisms.

The UN General Assembly will formally adopt the resolution in December of this year.

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran