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Iran’s Foreign Ministry Defends Joining UN Convention On Organized Crimes

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. File photo

Iran’s ministry of foreign affairs has rejected criticism of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) by conservatives, saying that the document does not deal with the activities of the so-called “freedom movements”, a term used by the Iranian regime to describe groups such as Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas.

In a statement, Iran’s ministry of foreign affairs on January 29 denounced the concerns regarding the convention and said that in the past 17 years, since the document has been drafted, “distinguished experts” from various institutions of Iran’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches have rigorously vetted its articles, its implementation, and the effectiveness of reservations signatory states voice upon the acceptance of the convention.

The convention deals only with supranational organized crimes regarding drugs, human trafficking, smuggling of goods, cultural, and historical artifacts that have always posed a threat to Iran’s national security and does not address “terrorist crimes, the funding of terrorism and other crimes of political nature”, the statement reads.

“In international law, the struggles of freedom movements and resistance groups against foreign occupation are recognized as [the right to] self-determination. Nevertheless, in its joining document, the government of the Islamic Republic has expressed its reservation that the implementation of the convention should not dispute the legitimate right of nations under colonial domination and foreign occupation for fighting against aggression, occupation and for self-determination.”

UNTOC is a UN-sponsored treaty against transnational organized crime, including terrorism, adopted by a resolution of the UN General Assembly in November 2000. So far 183 of the 193 UN member states, including countries neighboring Iran, have joined the convention. Iran had signed the treaty in 2000, but the country’s parliament ratified it only on January 24, 2018, with with 132 votes in favor, eighty against, and ten abstentions.

The ratification was tied to a January 31 deadline set for Tehran by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The move sparked severe criticism by some conservative politicians. Hosseinali Haji Deligani, an ultra-conservative member of the parliament described the voteas “betrayal”, and his colleague Mojtaba Zon-Nour said that the United States could use the convention against Hezbollah since it accuses the group of being involved in drug trafficking.

Mohammad Nabi Habibi, the secretary of the conservative party “Islamic Coalition Party” called the parliament’s vote equal to “disarming” the Islamic Revolutionary Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah and claimed that Iran’s reservations regarding the UNTOC was “worthless”.