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Explore: UN Security Council Arria Formula Meeting on the ongoing protests in Iran

On Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022, the UN Security Council held an Arria Formula meeting to “highlight the ongoing repression of women and girls and members of religious and ethnic minority groups in Iran and underscore ongoing unlawful use of force against peaceful protesters.” The Permanent Missions of the United States and Albania co-hosted the meeting. The panel was composed of Dr. Javaid Rehman, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran,  Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Iranian Human Rights Defender and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and Nazanin Boniadi, Iranian activist.

Dr. Rehman stressed again the international community’s responsibility in addressing impunity for human rights violations and reiterated his call for the prompt establishment of an independent investigative mechanism to investigate all human rights violations leading up to and since the death of Mahsa Jina Amini.

Highlighting the lack of concrete action from the international community so far, Dr. Shirin Ebadi welcomed the holding of the Arria meeting, which contributes to bringing a “sense of hope to the people of Iran.” Nazanin Boniadi noted that the ongoing uprising “is not just about draconian dress code” but also gender-based discrimination embedded in Iran’s legal system and practices, and more broadly, the denial “of all Iranians from freedom of expression, association, and assembly, as well as fair trial and due process.”

In a welcome step, Member states across all regions were almost unanimous in condemning state violence in the context of ongoing protests in Iran, particularly the disproportionate and lethal use of force by security forces against demonstrators and state gender-based violence and discrimination.

Joining forces with efforts currently pursued in Geneva at the Human Rights Council, Albania and the United States announced their support to the Special Rapporteur’s call for an independent and international investigation into human rights violations and to hold those responsible accountable. Gabon echoed calls for investigations “to shed light on the facts and to establish accountability,” while Kenya affirmed that it is of states’ collective responsibility to demand accountability and justice. The US and Albania also challenged Iran’s membership in the Commission on the Status of Women.

Several states continued to call on Iran to pursue independent and impartial investigations, although the Special Rapporteur reiterated that there are currently no avenues for accountability and justice at the domestic level.

Although promoting respect for human rights is among the purposes and principles of the UN Charter (Article 55), and as such, of the Security Council, China and Russia both refuted that the Council had “any kind of oversight functions on human rights” and believed that the ongoing protests and state deadly crackdown on demonstrations had “nothing to do with international peace and security.” On the other hand, the United Arab Emirates stressed that “the rights of women and girls must be central to international peace and security.”

Click below for the speakers’ statements and quotes from the meeting.

Host Members States

(not in attendance)

Ambassador Ferit Hoxha
Permanent Mission of Albania to the UN 🇦🇱

“We support already existing instruments and tools as well as creation of a new independent and impartial investigative mechanism to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its gross violations of human rights and impunity”

“We fully support the call to end the endemic impunity in Iran, and perpetrators must know that they will be held accountable”

“We support the calls to remove Iran from that body [CSW]”

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
US Mission to the UN 🇺🇸

“…We strongly support the Special Rapporteur’s call for an independent, international investigation to hold Iranian officials accountable for the violence we’re seeing. And that’s why, as Vice President Harris just announced today, we will work with other Member States to remove the Islamic Republic of Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women.”

“And we are also working closely with our partners to push for action at the Human Rights Council in Geneva and the Third Committee.”

Read the ambassador’s full statement.

Concerned State

(not in attendance)

Amir Saeid Iravani 
Permanent Representative of Iran to the UN 🇮🇷

The Permanent Mission of Iran was not present at the Arria formula meeting. However, the Mission sent a note verbale to other Member States urging them not to attend:

Read the permanent representative’s full note verbale.

Read Impact Iran’s analysis of the note verbale.

Expert Briefings

Prof. Javaid Rehman
UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran

“The current situation of human rights in particular the tragedy facing Iran since 16th of September this year is an unfortunate reflection of institutional impunity and absence of any accountability for violation of serious human rights”

“In the absence of any domestic channels of accountability I would stress the significance of the role and responsibility of the international community in addressing impunity for human rights violations in Iran. I would call for the prompt establishment of an independent investigative mechanism to investigate all human rights violations leading up to and since the death of Jina Mahsa Amini”

Dr. Shirin Ebadi
Human Rights Defender
Nobel Prize Laureate

“The fact that finally Iranian voices of protests are heard in the international community brings a sense of hope to the people of Iran.”

“Iranians are shouting the slogan ‘Women, Life, Freedom’. To fulfill such a slogan, a government in Iran must respect standards of equality and human rights”

Read Dr. Ebadi’s full remarks.

Nazanin Boniadi
Actress, Activist

“To be clear this uprising is not just about draconian dress codes. However the compulsory hijab has become the most visible symbol of the subjugation of Iranian women. Now Iranian men and women stand shoulder-to-shoulder against the Islamic Republic’s gender apartheid regime, that has maintained its power not only through the segregation and oppression of women in Iran, but denial of all Iranians from freedom of expression, association and assembly, as well as fair trial and due process.”

Read Ms. Boniadi’s full remarks.

Member State Responses

Brazil 🇧🇷

“We share the concerns expressed by other members regarding the escalation of tensions in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini and the current repression of peaceful protestors in the aftermath of the episode.”

“We urge the Iranian authorities to fully investigate the case and to bring those responsible to justice as well as to act with utmost restraint in the context of the protests.”

China 🇨🇳

“The purpose of Arria meetings is to apprise the Council Members of information on issues related to international peace and security through an informal exchange. What happens in Iran purely belongs to the realm of Iran’s internal affairs and has nothing to do with international peace and security.”

“China is always against interference in other countries’ internal affairs under whatever pretext.”

“China believes that the Government of Iran is capable of properly handling the related issues on its own.”

France 🇫🇷

“Mr. Special Rapporteur: your July 2022 report shed light on a degrading human rights situation in Iran, in almost every domain.”

“We react alongside our European partners with the utmost firmness against those responsible for these grave human rights violations. France continues to work with its European partners in considering new targeted sanctions if Iran continues continues this level of repression.”

Gabon 🇬🇦

“We must echo the voices being raised for the opening of a transparent impartial investigation to shed light on the facts and to establish accountability”

Ghana 🇬🇭

“We call on the Iranian regime to stop suppressing the right of peaceful assembly, and the freedom of association and expression. We are deeply alarmed by the measures undertaken by Iran to restrict access to the Internet. This is limiting the ability of journalists, human rights defenders, and others, to report on human rights violations.”

Ireland 🇮🇪

“The international community will not remain silent. Last month the European Union sanctioned eleven people and four entities for their role in the death of Mahsa Amini and the violent response to the demonstrations which followed.”

Kenya 🇰🇪

“We express our concern for the excessive use of force including the use of sexual violence and gender violence against peaceful demonstrators who are exercising their freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly. We would like to make an appeal for an end to all violence and discrimination against people who are demonstrating”

Mexico 🇲🇽

“We believe that beyond condemning discrimination and denial of human rights it is our collective responsibility to also speak up for these rights and demand accountability and justice wherever and whenever they are violated or denied.”

New Zealand
(on behalf of CANZ

“We stand in solidarity with the courageous Iranian women and girls and other peaceful protestors, in their struggle for equality, empowerment, and a better future.”

“The international community must show support for their valiant cause. We urge Member States to vote ‘Yes’ on the upcoming UN Third Committee resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran.” 

“We support calls for Iran to grant access to the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, to provide transparency and facilitate accountability on human rights concerns.”

“There must be accountability for the ongoing, systemic repression of women and girls, as well as of ethnic and religious minorities in Iran.”

Norway 🇳🇴

“Norway fully supports the peaceful demonstrators in their demand for the full respect for their human rights. We condemn the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators, and echo the Secretary-General in his call for a prompt, impartial and effective investigation of Mahsa Amini’s death.”

“Norway will continue to listen to the voices of the Iranian people. We will do our best to support them in their tireless efforts to have their human rights ensured and respected.”

Russia 🇷🇺

“No single international instrument in the area of human rights does not provide for the security council having any kind of oversight functions on human rights so the real purpose of today’s event is another political attack on Iran”

UAE 🇦🇪

“The sovereign state bears primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights”

“The rights of women and girls must be central to international peace and security and consistent in all our discussions.”

UK 🇬🇧

“The situation is entirely of the Iranian regime’s own making. Its human rights record has been dire for years.”

“The Iranian regime’s narrative around these incidents – that external actors are to blame for the unrest – is a flagrant attempt to distract the world.”