The recent appointment of Ahmed Shaheed as the UN human rights monitor on Iran has triggered an assortment of reactions from the Iranian government regarding whether he will be allowed to visit the country for his investigation.
An international observer could interpret the varied responses as a sign of Tehran’s weakness in failing to put forward a united strategy. Or, it could be viewed as a deliberate strategy on one of the most critical and vulnerable issues for Iran to not to have a single reaction, thus enabling Tehran to keep its options open.
The first reaction came from Iran’s parliament the day after Shaheed’s appointment. Tehran Times reported that Mohammad-Karim Abedi, Vice-Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, said Shaheed would not be allowed to travel to Iran, arguing that the UN Human Right Council should instead investigate “the United States, the UK and the Zionist regime” as “the greatest violators of the human rights in the world.”
One day later, Kaleme reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Akbar Salehi asserted that Iran has no fear or worry about human right investigators coming to Iran. He claimed that Iran had already invited thematic UN investigators to visit Iran prior to the establishment of the country-specific human rights monitor.
Finally, the most recent response came from Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, Iran’s Judiciary Chief. He dismissed accusations of human rights violations in Iran and rejected the monitor’s appointment, saying, “On the issue of human rights, we will cooperate with the United Nations, but within a rational framework and not as an instrument against our country.”
Previously, in May, the head of Iran’s Human Rights Council, Javad Larijani, had stated that Iran would not object to allowing a UN human rights monitor to visit the country.
One thing is obvious in the various reactions: Tehran is in “lose-lose” situation on this issue. Accepting or rejecting a human right investigator will prove different accusations regarding violations of human rights in Iran. Moreover, Iran’s government cannot stop Shaheed from doing his job by preventing him to travel to the country. As Bahman Keshavarz, the Head of National Union of Iranian Court Attorneys, told Radio Zamaneh:
“If Iran refuses to allow the appointed representative of the Human Rights Council to enter Iran, the representative will use off-field methods of investigation of inquiry and questioning the sources available to him — inside Iran as well as abroad — to prepare his report and present it to the council.”
But the U.S. Institute of Peace notes the difficulties faced by past rapporteurs:
“Shaheed will be the fourth special rapporteur to Iran, after Andres Aguilar, Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, and Maurice Copithorne. All past rapporteurs expressed concerns about human rights violations in Iran but received little cooperation from the Iranian government. Copithorne, for example, was allowed in Iran only once at the beginning of his term.”
The 47-member UN Human Rights Council voted in March to reestablish the independent human rights monitor on Iran. The measure enjoyed the support of a diverse coalition of states and international human rights advocates.Back to top