Through the auspices of the United Nations, many in the international community have once again expressed serious concern about violations of human rights in Iran.
On November 15 the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues, adopted a resolution urging Iran to eliminate abusive practices against its citizens. The abuses cited include discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities; severe limitations on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; the systematic use of arbitrary detention; forced disappearances; torture; and executions undertaken with no regard for international safeguards.
In an increase from past years, eighty-five countries voted in favor of the resolution. Thirty-five voted against, and 63 abstained. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power called the support for the resolution on Iran a “surge…[showing] international concern for human rights abuses” in the country.
Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the U.S.-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, also pointed to the international community’s “broad agreement” that “Iran must improve its human rights record,” and observed that “[i]f there was any attempt by Iran to address its human rights violations, we would not see the Third Committee pass these resolutions year after year.”
Speaking in support of the Third Committee’s resolution, U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Michele Sison declared that the United States remains concerned over the human rights situation in Iran. “Government institutions continue to subject the Iranian people to a wide range of violations and abuses, especially targeting members of minority groups and those with divergent political views,” she said. “We reiterate our call on the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to end widespread use of arbitrary detention, excessive sentences, harsh prison conditions, and death sentences against individuals who were minors at the time of their alleged crimes.”
Ambassador Sison also noted that the previous UN Special Rapporteur was not allowed to visit Iran to conduct the work mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, and she urged “the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to allow his successor to visit the country.”