Despite Iran's Rejection, Human Rights Pressure Continues
Iran announced on Monday that it would not permit the recently appointed United Nations human rights monitor on Iran to enter the country to report on the human rights situation.
Washington, DC –Iran announced on Monday that it would not permit the recently appointed United Nations human rights monitor on Iran to enter the country to report on the human rights situation.
There had been little expectation that Iran would immediately cooperate with the new monitor, and supporters of the mechanism have urged for persistent pressure on the matter to secure Iran’s compliance.
The mandate for the monitor on Iran, which was established by the UN Human Rights Council this past March, had previously been in place for fifteen years before it expired in 2002. The previous human rights monitor, Maurice Copithorne, was invited into Iran only once near the beginning of his tenure in 1996.
“When they read my first report,” he said in an interview last March, “they were so unhappy that I was never invited for a second visit.” However, Copithorne advised, “In this day and age you can do an awful lot and I found in my case there were significant advantages from addressing outside.”
Human rights experts have noted that Iran’s human rights record improved over the course of the previous monitor’s mandate. A 2010 Brookings Institute study found that the UN human rights monitor "represents one of the most effective tools of the international human rights system" and has “a direct impact on elevating attention to important and sensitive human rights problems."
The newly appointed monitor, Ahmed Shaheed, formerly served as the foreign minister of the Maldives until 2007, when he resigned in protest over the government’s failure to implement democratic reforms. He was appointed to the Iran monitor post in June and will report to the Human Rights Council on at least an annual basis.
Tehran has criticized the establishment of the monitor, claiming it was a “western engineered” attempt to politicize human rights. However, the mandate was established through the support of a broad cross-regional coalition of states at the Human Rights Council.
At a Capitol Hill conference sponsored by the National Iranian American Council last March, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Suzanne Nossel noted that a UN monitor carries “the imprimatur of the entire international community and will deliver information and messages that will be difficult for Tehran to dismiss or counter, although we know they'll try.”
NIAC strongly supported the establishment of the human rights monitor and has called on Iran to cooperate. “Iranian government officials have previously claimed they would allow the monitor access to the country,” said NIAC’s policy director in a statement welcoming the monitor’s appointment in June. “The Iranian-American community joins the international community in calling for Iran’s government to uphold this promise so Mr. Shaheed can do his job.”