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Update: Iran has withdrawn its candidacy. IHEU President Sonja Eggerickx today launched an international appeal to keep Iran out of the United Nations Human Rights Council. “Iran has one of the worst human rights records on earth,” she said, “yet it has had the audacity to announce its candidacy for membership of the UN Human Rights Council. The international community must not let this happen. We are calling upon the world’s non-governmental organisations to join us in our appeal to keep Iran out.” IHEU has started a petition on this web site and is seeking signatures from other organizations.

Petition to Keep Iran out of the UN Human Rights Council

More than six decades after the United Nations proclaimed a set of universal human rights, respect for these fundamental freedoms remain “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” [1] Yet, even within the organs of the United Nations, it has required constant vigilance and striving for these global standards to survive and strengthen. In 2005, then UN secretary general Kofi Annan called for the replacement of the UN Commission for Human Rights before it brought “the entire UN system into disrepute.” In establishing the Human Rights Council to replace the discredited Commission, the UN General Assembly decided “that members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.” [2] Now, just four years later, the UN is being asked to elect one of the world’s worst human rights abusers to that very Human Rights Council.

Iran: a world-record of human rights abuse

The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the world’s most blatant violators of human rights. This alone should disqualify it from membership of the Human Rights Council, because the UN General Assembly required that “when electing members of the Council, Member States shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto” [3]. Iran has a record of persecuting religious minorities, denying freedom of conscience and freedom of speech, and violently suppressing democratic voices. No other country executes as many of its young people as Iran. No other member state of the UN has called for another sovereign state to be wiped off the map, in blatant contravention of the UN Charter. In all of these well-documented abuses [4], Iran flouts the values and work of the Human Rights Council.

Legal and diplomatic condemnations of Iran by UN Member States

In March 2010, the Federal Court of Switzerland, the country’s highest judiciary body, refused any further cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran because of its grave human rights violations. The Swiss Federal Court noted that Iran was denounced in a UN resolution adopted by the General Assembly in December 2009 and does not believe that it will comply with its human rights obligations even if it explicitly guaranteed to do so [5]. The Swiss condemnation of Iran was echoed by other States including the Czech [6] and German [7] governments, which called upon the UN to reject Iran’s application to join the Council.

Voting against Iran: defending the Council’s credibility

The late Commission for Human Rights failed because, in the words of UN secretary general Kofi Annan, its work had become irremediably compromised by its politicking and selectivity, and by its failure to address human rights abuses by its member states. Repeating this mistake by electing Iran would lead the Council down the same suicidal path taken by the Commission. The future of the Human Rights Council, and the credibility of the entire UN system, are at stake.

We the undersigned non-governmental organizations therefore call upon all member states of the United Nations not to vote for Iran to become a member of the Human Rights Council. Click here to sign the petition on behalf of your organization.

List of organizations that have signed the petition

Notes

1 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
2 UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/press/hrc/kit/garesolution.pdf
3 UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/press/hrc/kit/garesolution.pdf
4 Human Rights abuses in Iran: http://iranhr.net, http://www.stopchildexecutions.com
5 “Bundesstrafgericht verweigert Iran jegliche Rechtshilfe“, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 15 March 2010:
http://www.nzz.ch/nachrichten/schweizbundesstrafgericht_verweigert_iran_jegliche_rechtshilfe_1.5220149.htm
6 United Nations Human Rights Council, High Level Segment, 3 March 2010:
http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpNewsByYear_en)/951F614C1C683872C12576DB0042CF5D?OpenDocument
7 Speech by Guido Westerwelle, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva
http://www.diplo.de/diplo/en/Infoservice/Presse/Reden/2010/100303-BM-MRR.html

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