Yesterday, 19 March 2015, the Human Rights Council considered the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). The IRI had previously submitted their reply to the Working Group of the UPR. (Read the full reply here)
Out of the 291 recommendations that the IRI had received during the UPR Session in November 2014, they accepted 130 recommendations entirely. They also accepted 59 recommendations partially explaining that full implementation of those recommendations would have been contrary to the “IRI constitution, basic laws and Islamic values”. However, the IRI rejected 102 recommendations entirely, which include the majority of the genuine and principle recommendations.
Although the IRI has accepted 65 percent of the recommendations either entirely or partially, most of those recommendations are either too general, or, empty praises that totally ignore serious violations of human rights in Iran. The majority of these recommendations came from Iran’s allies who were very active during the UPR session and tried their best to add as many friendly recommendations as possible. This clearly has paid off as the IRI authorities proudly claim that they have accepted a great majority of the recommendations. Below are some examples of the recommendations accepted entirely by the IRI:
Those recommendations that did not receive full acceptance of the IRI have supposedly included some parts that the IRI were not willing to accept. Although, it does not make it clear which part is rejected or accepted and leaves it to the audience to conclude from other parts of the reply. This, for example was the case where the recommendations were about allowing visit to the UN Special Rapporteurs or accession to a number of international conventions. Partial acceptance in these cases apparently meant to single out, respectively, allowing visit to the Special Rapporteur on Iran Dr. Shaheed, and accession to the CEDAW or CAT, which the IRI had expressly rejected.
The volume and quality of the rejected recommendation, however, were alarming. It would be true to say that most of the specific and principle recommendations including on gender inequality, rights of children particularly the age of criminal responsibility and minimum age for marriage, cruel punishments and death penalty, non-recognised religious minorities such as Baha’is, etc have been rejected entirely by the IRI. In terms of quality and seriousness, the 35 percent rejected recommendations undoubtedly overweigh the above mentioned 65 percent. These are some examples of the recommendations rejected by the IRI:
It seems that the IRI has used a simple formula while going through the list of the recommendations. They have accepted most of the recommendations that recognised their current efforts and did not ask for real changes. These recommendations could be easily identified by favourable words such as: “continue”, “pursue”, “step up”, and “intensify” your efforts.
On the other hand, they have rejected most of the recommendations that used words such as “end”, “stop”, “abolish, and “amend”, or implied slightest allegation of violation of human rights, for example, gender discrimination, harassment of journalists or detention of political prisoners. They have also rejected all the calls for amending their laws to ensure compliance with internationally accepted human rights standards. In other words, Iranian authorities have not tolerated any critical recommendation. This is contrary to the purpose and function of the UPR and members states must take this more seriously. During the yesterday session only UK and USA (out of 18 member states that made statements) were prepared to intervene and challenge the IRI’s position on the UPR.
Undoubtedly, Iran will be relying on its 65 percent rate of acceptance of the UPR recommendations in order to prove their cooperation with the UN mechanisms and the international community. This will be of particular significance when the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran Dr Shaheed will be decided on 27th March. It is very important for the member states not to read to much into the 65 percent figure. They need to have a clear idea of what this figure is consisting of, and, how many balanced, reasonable, genuine recommendations have been rejected by the IRI.