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U.N. Passes Resolution Condemning Iran's Human Rights Record

U.N. General Assembly's Third Committee in session. Photo courtesy of Center for Human Rights

The Third Committee of the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution on November 24, criticizing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s human rights record.

By a vote of 83 to 30, the U.N. body passed its resolution after a long process of debates and submitted reports. Many countries abstained, some criticizing Iran, but justifying their abstention by a desire to encourage Tehran to cooperate with the U.N. in protecting human rights.

A year ago, the committee had passed a similar resolution, with almost identical voting pattern, 85 for and 35 against.

The resolution welcomed what it considered as progress in Iran’s record, especially a new legislation to limit the death penalty for drug offenses. Iran raised the bar on applying the death penalty just days before the U.N. vote.

However, the resolution expressed “serious concern” at the alarming number of death penalty verdicts, including execution of minors, based on forced confessions.

Record of country votes in U.N. Third Committee on Iran's human rights resolution, Nov. 14, 2017
Record of country votes in U.N. Third Committee on Iran's human rights resolution, Nov. 14, 2017

​It also criticized Iran’s “systematic and widespread use of arbitrary detention, including the use of such practices to target dual and foreign nationals, and to uphold, in law and in practice, procedural guarantees to ensure fair trial standards, including timely access to legal representation of one’s choice from the time of arrest through all stages of trial and all appeals.”

The resolution also urged Iran to improve its prison conditions and not to withhold adequate medical treatment and the house arrest of leading opposition figures.

The U.N. Committee took note of restriction the Islamic Republic imposes on freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,“including by ending the harassment, intimidation and persecution of political opponents, human rights defenders, women’s and minority rights activists, labor leaders, students’ rights activists, academics, film-makers, journalists, bloggers, social media users and social media page administrators, media workers, religious leaders, artists, [and] lawyers,” and for Iran to allow the free development of a civil society.

Another area of concern was the rights of minorities and religious groups, such as the persecuted Baha’i community. The resolution called on Iran to release more than 90 Bahai’s held on dubious charges.

During the session, Iran’s representatives did not directly respond to any of the issues mentioned in the resolution. But the Iranian representative attacked Canada, the sponsor of the resolution and called the resolution a politicized document, signaling that Iran may not cooperate with the U.N. on human rights.