UN, human rights and the inevitability of change towards a working policy for Iran

By Jamal Ekhtiar:

Over the past three and a half decades, human rights issues in Iran have been on the agenda of the United Nations International rights system, but no progress has been made and now there must inevitably be change in the UN’s Iran rights policy.

While the system claims to safeguard and protect human rights, it has not secured actual results for peoples in Iran. At the same time as the ruling system in Iran stands accused of human rights violations, the international rights system suffers considerable flaws in its function. Undeniably, there have been no improvements on the ground.

The literature of the UN rights system suggests there has been little improvement, reflected in familiar terms such as “deepening human rights crisis” and that the human rights situation has “deteriorated” in Iran. Both sides have been acting irresponsibly, damaging the whole human rights cause. The UN rights system effectively admits its failure with regards to Iran.

There are two key reasons for the lack of concrete results. First, it has long been argued that member states within UN rights bodies prioritize their own political and economic ties over human rights and this lack of commitment damages the decision-making process leading towards a selective approach. Second, UN decisions about human rights are symbolic, non-binding resolutions and governments are not obliged to take actual steps for betterment. The lack of a working UN policy makes change inevitable.

The Iranian system, including its national clerical and other networks, has been irresponsible, and the non-Persian components of the Iran’s multinational society have suffered, since they do not enjoy equal rights and freedoms.

The Iranian system and United Nations international law and rights system have been mutually damaging and exploiting rights causes in the country. However, it is unfair to be too critical of the United Nations since, on the one hand, most mishandling of issues is the result member states’ politics and, on the other hand, the United Nations does have some valuable charters, treaties, conventions, international laws and, beyond this, many good, humanitarian, motivated staff working hard with its agencies. But this does not justify silence and, in fact, any criticism looks for a betterment of the human rights system, including the UN, to better reflect the dreams of peoples. The UN rights system has not been successful in adopting a new functional policy for human rights in Iran.

A new policy should end politicized, selective mishandling within United Nations rights bodies, involve true civil society of denied nationalities in Iran and adopt a binding approach to achieve results. Human rights should be for human rights not for politics.

Jamal Ekhtiar is a journalist from eastern Kurdistan. He has been a writer and contributor to various English and Kurdish media over the past ten years. He also works with civil society organisations.

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