Controversy because Iran will preside over the UN Human Rights Social Forum

Delegates attend the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland (REUTERS/Denis Balibouse) (DENIS BALIBOUSE/)

Iran will assume the presidency of a UN human rights forumsparking an international protest campaign by human rights activists who say Tehran’s record of oppression, torture and executions makes him unsuitable for the position.

The regime was appointed in May by the president of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to chair the Social Forum 2023. The event, scheduled for November 2 and 3 in Geneva, will focus on the contributions of science, the technology and innovations to promotion of human rights, even in the context of post-pandemic recovery.

Ali Bahraini, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations, was chosen from among several regional candidates.

This occurred despite a November resolution against Iran, the UNHRC called for an independent investigation into the Iranian leadership’s violence against peaceful demonstrators who protested following the death of Mahsa Amini.

“Woman, life, freedom.” The slogan of the protests against the Iranian regime after the death of Mahsa Amini (Europa Press/Contact/Krisztian Elek) (Europa Press/Contact/Krisztian /)

The decision shocked human rights activists, particularly Iranians.

“As the daughter of a political prisoner who has experienced first-hand the regime’s arbitrariness and human rights violations for more than two years, I seriously question the values ​​of the United Nations,” she told D.W. Mariam Clarendaughter of Nahid Taghavi, German-Iranian human rights activist imprisoned in Iran. In her opinion, rewarding Iran with the presidency of the Social Forum is “a slap in the face to all Iranians and anyone who loves freedom”.

“The appointment of an Iranian official to chair a UNHRC forum as the Council investigates the deaths of hundreds of peaceful protesters in Iran reflects shocking ethical blindness,” he said. Hadi Ghaemidirector of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), based in New York.

CHRI called on governments around the world to appeal to the Czech UNHRC chair, Vaclav Balekand demand the immediate withdrawal of Iran’s appointment.

Hillel Neuera human rights lawyer and executive director of UN Watch, an independent non-governmental human rights organization based in Geneva, also questioned Iran’s appointment and presented a resolution to reverse the decision.

“It is time for all UN democracies to stop legitimizing murderous regimes, in violation of the founding principles of the world body, and start holding those responsible to account,” he declared during a session of the Human Rights Council. “The murderous regime in Tehran is responsible for a rise in executions, carried out disproportionately against minorities, and for oppressing women and girls. The recent death of Armita Geravand16, after being attacked in the subway by the Iranian morality police for not wearing the mandatory hijab is a reminder that this is a cruel regime that does not belong to any UN human rights body, and very less as president.”

According to Neuer, Iran’s appointment can be annulled by an extraordinary Council meeting before Thursday.

UN Watch He also launched a global petition signed by more than 90,000 people, calling on the UN to overturn Iran’s presidency of the forum.

What is the Social Forum

The Social Forum is a annual meeting convened by the Human Rights Council. “It is a unique space for open and interactive dialogue between civil society, representatives of Member States and intergovernmental organizations, on a topic chosen by the Council each year,” according to the event’s website.

Furthermore, one of the key objectives of the Forum is to promote social cohesion based on the principles of social justice, equity and solidarity, as well as address the social dimension and challenges of the current globalization process.

The debates are led by a President-Rapporteur, appointed each year by the Human Rights Council from among the candidates proposed by the regional groups. This person is in charge of leading the debates.

EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell defended Iran’s appointment as a matter of regional rotation, “in coherence with established UN procedures.”

However, UN Watch noted that the Asian group, to which Iran belongs, has held the position four times in the past six years, denying rotations to several other regional groups.