• 19 November 2010
  • Posted By Lily Samimi
  • 2 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran, UN

UN Resolution on Human Rights in Iran is Same Old Story

Don’t be fooled by the media’s coverage of the new draft resolution on Iran’s human rights situation that advanced yesterday.  While headlines suggested that the US and the international community were doing something serious on Iran, this resolution is not much different than the Iran resolution adopted by the UN last year.

In fact, the UN has been passing similar resolutions on Iran for the past 26 years.  The difference is that from 1985 to 2002, the resolutions established a UN mandate for a human rights monitor on Iran, which actually helped improve the situation there.  But in 2002 the mandate failed by one vote, and there has been no mechanism in place ever since.  With yesterday’s action—which sets up a vote for final passage in December, the UN continues to catalog human rights violations in Iran, but fails to take any concrete steps to actually address the problem.

The resolution did advance with a wide margin of 80 in favor to 44 against and 57 abstentions. This is an even greater margin than last year’s resolution, which came out only months after the June 12th Iranian elections and passed with a margin of 74 in favor to 48 against and 59 abstentions. The issue of Iranian human rights in Iran is just as prominent now as it was a year ago when millions of people across the globe watched the devastating human rights violations unroll during election aftermath. The increase in the vote margin should be seen as window of opportunity to take concrete steps that can offer protection to Iranian victims instead of merely condemning the abuses.

Regardless of the resolution’s weaknesses, we should also not be fooled by the Iranian government’s arguments against the measure. Iranian officials have once again avoided addressing the outrageous human rights abuses in its own country by accusing the United States of abuses and accusing the international community of using human rights to maneuver Iran in a direction towards “westernization”.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, Iran’s human rights representative at the UN and one of Khamenei’s right hand men, argued at the UN General Assembly that the resolution does nothing to contribute to the promotion of human rights and should therefore be discarded. But he wasn’t arguing for a stronger resolution that could do a better job of promoting human rights, he was arguing that the United States is “the mastermind and main provocateur behind a text that had nothing to do with human rights” and that they are using as a “politicization of human rights”.  But human rights do not belong to the United States or Iran, they are a universal value that must be respected.  As a signatory to numerous international treaties on human rights, Iran is bound to uphold these basic rights, and arguments of politicization fall short when human rights defenders like Nasrin Sotoudeh continue to languish in prison.

That being said, addressing Iranian human rights must stand on its own apart from other issues of concern, i.e. nuclear weapons, sanctions, Afghanistan, etc. The US Administration must know the implications of using human rights as front for addressing other important issues – namely Iran’s nuclear capability—and have generally been careful to avoid falling into such a trap.

In order to help stem Iran’s human rights violations, it is crucial for the US to engage the international community to address human rights as a strategic goal unto itself.  The Obama Administration must get serious and step up its efforts at the UN to seek an independent mechanism to monitor Iran’s human rights situation.  Mike Hammer, US National Security Council spokesperson, said that, “by adopting the resolution, the international community has sent an unequivocal message to the Iranian government that universal rights must be respected.” But this message has been conveyed repeatedly to no avail.   It’s time to get serious and pursue a concrete approach by establishing a human rights monitor.

Posted By Lily Samimi

    2 Responses to “UN Resolution on Human Rights in Iran is Same Old Story”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Huh. Those voting against and abstaining significantly outnumber those voting in favor. That should tall you something right there.

    So how did they vote on Egypt and Israel? You mean they didn’t? Again, that should tall you something right there.

  2. Iranian-American says:

    Pirouz,

    It seems that you seem to be implying that abstaining is the same as voting against it, which is simply not true. Abstaining is no more a vote against as it is a vote in favor. This was vote was quite a large margin in favor.

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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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