On Monday, November 20, Brazil abstained from a resolution on human rights in Iran in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly. Brazil has a disturbing voting record on these resolutions. Since 2001, with the exception of 2003, the country has consistently abstained from resolutions condemning the human rights situation in Iran.
In the explanation of vote the Brazilian delegation alleged that the text of the resolution was not balanced in its treatment of the fundamental rights situation in Iran. “Conectas and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran asked the government to get actively involved in the drafting of the text. The government needs to show the efforts it made during the negotiations,” said Camila Asano, coordinator of Foreign Policy at Conectas.
“Brazil will have the opportunity, in December, to rectify this position. The resolution approved this week will be forwarded for a final vote in the Plenary Session of the General Assembly, when the country will be required to vote once more in New York. We hope the government will review its position and comply with the constitutional principle of the prevalence of human rights in the Brazilian international relations,” added Asano.
The resolution that was not supported by Brazil, besides presenting a list of recurring abuses in Iran, urges the Iranian government to ensure free and fair parliamentary elections in 2012. It also calls for an end, both in legislation and in practice, to public executions and the methods of stoning and hanging.
As far as Conectas is concerned, Brazil’s position is incoherent. In the UN Human Rights Council, in March 2011, the government of Dilma Rousseff voted in favor of the creation of a UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. It is important to note that the then recently elected President Rousseff was firm in her criticism of Brazil’s abstention on a similar resolution in December 2010, claiming at the time that she did not share this position.
The incoherence is compounded by the fact that Brazil’s support for the creation of the Special Rapporteur, in March, was based on facts that unfortunately still persist: systematic violations by the Iranian government and Iran’s lack of cooperation with the UN. “Since these factors have not changed, the only appropriate position would be a vote in favor, casting doubt on what prompted the Brazilian vote, if not the situation of the victims of abuse by the Iranian government,” concluded Asano.
Last week, the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly also voted on human rights resolutions on specific countries. Resolutions were approved on Burma (Myanmar), Syria and North Korea. Brazil voted in favor of the resolutions on Syria and North Korea but abstained from the resolution on Burma.