Despite being party to, and claiming to implement, four of the six principal human rights treaties, the Iranian government violates all of them and has consistently failed to comply with international standards in the administration of justice.
H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon
The United Nations
H.E. Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa
President of the General Assembly
The United Nations
I write with regard to an issue of vital importance to the United Nations. The international community cannot be silent in situations where the violation of human rights is systemic, grave, and widespread, and where States dismiss issues of human rights and refuse to engage in meaningful dialogue. When a country does not engage its own citizens, cooperate with the international community, or address serious situations, the international community has no choice but to express its views and voice its concern. Hence, I write concerning the human rights situation in Iran.
Though human rights violations in Iran are widely known and were addressed this year, as done so previously, in a General Assembly resolution (A/RES/61/176), I nonetheless wish to highlight the areas of utmost severity.
Despite being party to, and claiming to implement, four of the six principal human rights treaties – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child – the Iranian government violates all of them, as well as its own laws governing these areas. In particular, Iran has consistently failed to comply with international standards in the administration of justice – including but not limited to the absence of due process of law, the refusal to provide fair and public hearings, and the denial of the right to counsel.
Alongside its disregard for legislative norms, the Iranian government maintains extra-constitutional courts and Special Courts for the Clergy, whose decisions negate the rule of law and final without appeal. The lack of judicial transparency is only magnified by the physical abuses occurring in Iranian prisons, as well as the administering of death sentences for social and political offenses including, inter alia, apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy, adultery, and prostitution.
In this area, Iran’s gross human right abuses have been well documented. Previously, in reports by both the United Nations and civil society organizations, concern has been raised regarding the continued use of flogging, amputations and other forms of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The use of public executions has increased in the last year, with more minors executed annually in Iran than in any other nation.
Despite its having ratified the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, Iran, in law and in practice, discriminates against women. The government condones routine violence against women, such as “honour killings” and other retributive acts of violence carried out against women for shaming or bringing dishonour to their families. There is also substantial violence against the girl child specifically, as well as violence against children in general.
Additionally, Iran severely restricts the freedom of the press. Its courts have effectively paralyzed the reform movement, shutting down pro-reform publications and banning them by judicial decision.
But Iran has not confined its disregard for human rights to within its own borders. The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has on more than one occasion denied the Holocaust, while simultaneously calling for Israel’s destruction. To call for the annihilation of another Member State – of anyone at all, no matter their race, religion, or ethnicity – constitutes direct and public incitement to commit genocide, a gross violation of international law.
In light of the aforementioned policies and practices, it is patently obvious that Iran cannot honestly support open dialogue between civilizations and among Member States. Its utter disregard for human rights and human values runs counter to the ideals enshrined within a variety of commitments made by the international community. Specifically, Iran’s human rights violations are an affront to the very resolution it sponsored in the past, the “Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations,” A/RES/60/4, which calls for Member States to commit to “advancing human welfare, freedom and progress everywhere, and to encouraging tolerance, respect, dialogue and cooperation among different cultures, civilizations and peoples.” From the examples cited above, it is clear that Iran wishes to have no place in this dialogue.
Excellency, history has shown us that indifference and silence never resolved anything. On the contrary, scrutinizing and speaking out against systematic abusers of human rights can make an unmistakable and lasting difference.
I should be grateful if you would circulate and include the contents of this letter as an official document of the sixty-first session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 44, "Culture of Peace."
Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.