Iranian Delegation’s Lack of Credibility at the Human Rights Council
Campaign’s daily blog from Geneva, Switzerland–The Sixteenth session of the United Nations Human Rights Council is underway with the aim of reviewing a resolution about the appointment of a special rapporteur for Iran. The Iranian delegation has lobbied hard among representatives of different countries to make sure the resolution will not pass, but it is anticipated that the resolution will pass. The Iranian team, for example, spent hours in meetings with Non-Alligned Movement (NAM) and the Organization of Islamic Conference. Some sources told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the Iranian delegation had serious problems recruiting serious support from those states that are usually supportive of Iran’s position. It seems some of the countries that may have abstained from voting, will vote for the resolution this time.
Even so, it is expected that countries such as China, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, and certain other countries such as Burkina Faso and Mauritania in Africa and Malaysia, Qatar, and Bahrain will vote against the resolution.
According to attending diplomats, the Iranian delegation’s lobby efforts have not been limited to Geneva. A diplomat who asked for anonymity said that Iranian authorities have dispatched several delegations to other countries prior to the session in order to ascertain their vote. One of the reasons Iran is seeing less cooperation this year despite its lobbying efforts is the Middle East developments from Libya to Bahrain. Some countries are afraid that as the human rights situation deteriorates and change appears inevitable in those countries, association with Iran may give any state siding with it a bad image.
Another point that has further caused Iran’s isolation is Iran’s lack of cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms. Out of more than 80 communications to Iran by the different UN special procedures, only 8 have been answered. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has also spoken up about Iran’s lack of attention to the different requests raised by different human rights resolutions. Since 2005, Iran has prevented the presence of UN special rapporteurs in Iran and the 14 March report of the UN Secretary General indicates that dozens of people have been executed secretly by the Iranian government. According to a diplomat from an African nation, the Iranian government has portrayed such an image of itself that supporting Iran appears as a liability for other countries.
Another issue which has caused a lot of reaction from different countries is Iran’s political and non-specialist attacks on countries that criticize Iran’s human rights record. These attacks are mostly not results of research on cases of human rights violations or about specific situations, but sweeping statements in reaction to those countries’ positions on Iran’s human rights situation. Several times, when the Iranian delegation was expected to make statements about Iran’s human rights situation, instead of providing answers, the text resembled political statements.
Attacking other countries, instead of being accountable, may be an approach the Iranian government has adopted through the control it exerts over the media inside Iran, but in the international arena, when the Iranian government attacks all its critics, the Council member states are forced into thinking that the only way to make Iran accountable is to install a special monitoring mechanism for it and to eventually send a special rapporteur to Iran. Experts observing the negotiations and attending related meetings, believe that the method the Iranian delegation has chosen, has worked against Iran and has put Iran next to countries such as North Korea, Burma, and Libya who deny clear facts and show no willingness for accountability.
Instead of helping the Iranian government’s official positions, the presence of Iran’s pro-government NGO’s, who repeat the Iranian delegation’s positions word for word in all meetings, has practically contributed to a weakening of the position of Iran’s official delegation. Organizations described as representatives of Iran’s civil society by the Iranian government did not make any attempts during any of the meetings they attended, where they could address the situation of human rights in Iran, and they did not say a word about the conditions of human rights in Iran. They all had three general topics defined by the government as their agenda items–to call all criticism of Iran as political, to talk about the economic sanctions against Iran, and to condemn the sanctions on the sale of aircraft parts to Iran.