The UN and the non-implementation of existing rights laws by the Iran government

By Jamal Ekhtiar:

Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteu

Dr Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Iran

Most of UN Special Rapporteur Dr. Shaheed’s recommendations concern some hundreds of individuals and, linked with this, Dr. Shaheed makes recommendations to the government in Iran about how to improve its legislation. However, in reality, the problems of human rights in Iran are not only associated with the need for new laws.

Even with the current ideological system and the existing constitution, there is still a legal framework for safeguarding rights of different peoples in Iran. A good example is linguistic rights: the current constitution upholds rights to study in one’s mother tongue in schools and other educational institutions which, if implemented in practice, would help children and students to learn better. The constitution also includes items on equality and rights for development, including at an individual and collective level, but the Iranian government conducts unlimited discrimination against regional Iran. The developed central region and deprived regional Iran are the proof of this.

Even though there is a need to amend laws to bring them into line with international standards, there is still plenty of room for some rights to be translated into reality within the current system, but government does not implement these laws.

The United Nations system failed to address non-implemented laws and articles of the constitution, although in fact they could affect the rights of millions of individuals.

In past years there has been a useless, hypocritical dispute between the Iranian government and United Nations. The government in Iran has claimed it could not implement UN recommendations since they may be against Islam, but the UN has not inquired whether the Iranian government has implemented existing laws – for example, the language rights law, which the clerical government in Tehran cannot claim goes against Islam.

The newly-announced draft Charter of Citizens’ Rights, introduced by the current president Rouhani, will not change anything. Rights are not about papers; they are about ground realities and the lives of individuals. The real situation of denied rights in Iran can never change with these paper games.

Both sides try to use some excuses to evade responsibility, but if only the UN encouraged Iran to implement existing laws, never mind new disputed recommendations, it would take a decade of effort to get good results.

Along with a lack of democracy, the dysfunctional system in Iran – combining with all the state institutions the unhelpful interventions from parallel institutions – paralyses any efforts to implement and improve existing laws.

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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