UN member states express desire for improvements inside Iran, urge Iran to cooperate with UN human rights norms

NEW YORK – November 19, 2015: Impact Iran, a coalition of Iranian and international human rights advocates, applauds today’s vote in the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in favor of a resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The resolution passed with 76 votes in favor of the resolution, and 35 votes against it. 68 member states abstained. Earlier this week, 36 human rights organizations came together in a joint letter calling on UN member states support the resolution.

“Many UN member states are hopeful that the nuclear accord will create an opportunity for the human rights situation in Iran to improve. Unfortunately, the situation so far continues to be dire,” said Mani Mostofi, director of Impact Iran. “Today’s resolution sends a strong message to the people in Iran that the international community remains committed to defending their rights.”

In the past three weeks, Iranian authorities have issued a wave of arrests of journalists, human rights defenders, and members of religious minorities.

On November 15, in a coordinated series of raids, Iranian intelligence officials reportedly arrested at least 15 members of the Baha’i Faith in the cities of Tehran, Isfahan, and Mashhad. Authorities also closed 23 Baha’i-owned businesses. Hadi Heidari, a prominent cartoonist, was also arrested on November 16. Heidari’s last cartoon expressed grief over the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

Moreover, the number of executions in Iran continues rise. At a rate of three executions per day, including juvenile offenders, Iran will likely exceed 900 executions this year, making it the highest per capita user of the death penalty in the world.

The resolution received strong cross-regional support including key states such as El Salvador, Gabon, and Grenada, which had abstained on the resolution in the past, and Chile and South Korea, which maintained their positive votes despite expanding diplomatic relationships with the Islamic Republic.

The UN resolution’s text welcomes a few positive steps by Iran, while stressing ongoing concerns. It also calls on Iran to increase its cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms, including allowing the Special Rapporteur on Iran to enter the country. The Special Rapporteur’s 2015 report, released in October, on the situation of human rights in Iran is available online.

“The UN is calling on Iranian authorities to end their illegal use of the death penalty, torture, discrimination against women and minorities, and repression of the rights of expression, association, and assembly,” Mostofi added. “It is now up to these authorities to work to improve the situation and address the serious concerns laid out by the international community.”