Step off the fence

NGOs call for countries to support UN resolution on human rights situation in Iran

General assembly 70th session – 28 September - AM session

Address by His Excellency Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran General assembly 70th session – 28 September - AM session Address by His Excellency Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

The UN General Assembly is scheduled to discuss and vote this week on a resolution on the human rights situation in Iran. The text highlights the alarming state of violations of fundamental freedoms and guarantees in the country and is based on the information presented by the special rapporteur on Iran, the Maldivian diplomat Ahmed Shaheed. Since 2011, when the position was created, Shaheed has not been permitted to inspect the country a single time. The last visit by a UN representative to Iran occurred in 2005.

This is the first UN vote on Iran since the signing, in July, of the nuclear agreement between the government of Tehran and the group of six world powers known as P5+1 (United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany). The agreement paved the way for the lifting of economic sanctions on the country – which resulted in the resumption of trade relations with Brazil.

In September, Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira was in Iran to negotiate the resumption of business and investments, which exceeded US$2 billion in 2012 but fell by half after the sanctions, according to the Ministry of Foreign Relations. “The prospect of lifting the sanctions creates opportunities for the expansion of trade in sectors such as agribusiness, and investments in the areas of hydroelectricity, mining and infrastructure,” said the ministry in a public statement released shortly before his trip.

In March this year, breaking a series of favorable votes cast in Geneva since 2011, the Brazilian delegation in the UN Human Rights Council abstained from voting on a resolution on Iran. The abstention was harshly criticized by Iranian activists, including by Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi in an article published in the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper.

At the time, Conectas filed a freedom of information request to access the content of the telegrams exchanged between the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the Brazilian embassy in Tehran and the Brazilian mission in Geneva prior to the vote in the Council. The intention was to discover what information had prompted Brazil to change its position. The Ministry has still not responded satisfactorily to the request, despite successive appeals by the organization.

Organizations call for approval of the resolution

In the run-up to the debate in the General Assembly, 23 human rights organizations from various parts of the world, including Conectas, are calling for support for the resolution on human rights in Iran. “The country has had a disturbing escalation in the use of the death penalty, with at least 830 people executed between 1 January and 1 November 2015,” they said in a joint letter. “By voting in favor of the resolution, States will encourage Iran’s government to prioritize human rights and to advance and protect the rights of Iran’s population.”

Click here to read the statement in full.

“Brazil needs to urgently review its position. We have worked with Iranian civil society and its message it clear: President Hassan Rohani’s promises on human rights have proven to be empty and contradictory, aggravating an already serious situation of violations,” said Camila Asano, coordinator of Foreign Policy at Conectas.

“We hope that Brazil will adopt a more decisive position on the need for Iran to combine its economic reopening with respect for human rights. Another abstention in the UN would not be consistent with the position of a country that claims to be concerned with human rights in its foreign policy and that prefers to let multilateral forums handle these types of issues,” added Asano.

Votes by Brazil on Iran in the UN:

Year Human Rights Council (preceded by the Commission on Human Rights until 2005) General Assembly
1998 In favor In favor
1999 In favor In favor
2000 In favor Abstention
2001 Abstention Abstention
2002 Abstention No resolution
2003 No resolution In favor
2004 No resolution Abstention
2005 No resolution Abstention
2006 No resolution Abstention
2007 No resolution Abstention
2008 No resolution Abstention
2009 No resolution Abstention
2010 No resolution Abstention
2011 In favor Abstention
2012 In favor Abstention
2013 In favor Abstention
2014 In favor Abstention
2015 Abstention Abstention


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