Democracy Coalition Project marks Iran number one country of concern at the Human Rights Council over 2009-2010

Dec 21, 20100 comments

The Democracy Coalition Project (DCP), a group that promotes policies and civil society campaigns that seek to strengthen and establish open democratic societies and respect for human rights around the world, has just published its annual report: “Human Rights Council Report Card: Government Positions on Key Issues 2009-2010.”

(Download the full report as a PDF here.)

The report assesses the work of the Human Rights Council on important issues debated by the body during its fourth year of work from July 2009-June 2010. The report evaluates governments’ records at the Human Rights Council over this period. DCP’s research showed that Iran was the number one country of concern at the UN Human Rights Council (Council) over 2009-2010. The finding is based on the number of times governments and NGOs raised the human rights situation in the country under the Agenda Item at the Council entitled “Situations requiring the Council’s attention.” DCP notes that the top three situations – Iran, Sri Lanka, and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – failed to garner effective action.

Human Rights Council Report Card (Reference: Page 12)

Flawed initiatives have been taken by the Council on two of these situations over the last few years; a special session was convened on Sri Lanka in May 2009, and increasingly mild resolutions are being adopted on the DRC. In stark contrast, no action was taken on Iran despite the fact that Iran ranked the highest country of concern by states and NGOs throughout the period. The Human Rights Council failed not only to call a special session as called by human rights groups, it failed to establish a special rapporteur to monitor the situation, adopt a resolution condemning violations, or even table the situation for debate. The finding is troubling, but more importantly, it demands a response by governments who sit on the UN Human Rights Council. Members of the Council cannot claim that the situation is not serious, or that there is little support for action  because the record shows that they themselves have judged it to be the most serious. United4Iran and other Iran-focused groups can highlight these inconsistent findings and request that specific actions be taken, such as approval of a resolution, and the establishment of a UN monitor on Iran. “No other example of neglect of a human rights crisis in recent times is as shocking as this,” said Dokhi Fassihian, executive director of the Democracy Coalition Project. “Serious situations from Burma to Sudan, Kyrgyzstan to Honduras, Guinea to North Korea, Somalia to Afghanistan have all been addressed by the Council in one form or another. In the cases of Sri Lanka and DRC, though flawed, the Council attempted some kind of action. Yet, the complete failure to address the one situation that it, itself, judged as the most grave is cause for alarm. This demonstrates that the international community’s priorities on Iran are misplaced. It is time for governments around the world to uphold their obligations to assist Iranian citizens facing severe repression by appointing a UN special rapporteur to report to the world on what is happening inside the country.” Below is an excerpt of the report. (Download the full report as a PDF here.)

Unfortunately, many serious and emerging human rights emergencies throughout the world received limited or no attention despite numerous calls from member states and NGOs for action by the Council. Throughout the year, human rights organizations repeatedly urged UN member states to support a robust response to the ongoing post-election crackdown on human rights defenders, civil society and peaceful protestors in Iran since its disputed 2009 Presidential elections. Over the year, states raised the situation in Iran more than any other country during the general debate on human rights situations requiring the Council’s attention. The United States and Norway led a cross-regional group of more than 50 states in a statement expressing concern over mounting violations in Iran despite a coordinated effort by Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Malaysia to block the statement from being read at the Council. Regardless of numerous appeals over the year-long crisis, the Council missed successive opportunities to adopt a resolution and establish a special rapporteur mandate to monitor the situation. The Council also ignored similar petitions for the creation of mandates on the grave human rights situations in the DRC, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan.