Iran, UN and Human Rights

The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran disregards and violates the human rights of its citizens – profoundly and systematically. For many years, bodies and special rapporteurs of the United Nations have deplored these violations of human rights. Further information can found on the following pages. (UN Photo/Marco Castro)

At a glance

Iran has ratified important legally binding treaties under international law. Almost all of the countries in the world are partners in these contracts.  Even though Iran has publicly committed to these treaties, the Islamic Republic continues to breach its contractual obligations daily through torture, arbitrary imprisonment, and deprivation of the rights of women and minorities. What is the position of the United Nations?

The UN General Assembly has adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran almost every year since 1985. However, an improvement of the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic is virtually unnoticeable.

Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, has regularly reported about the human rights situation in Iran since 2008. Iran is a member state of some key human rights treaties, but that does not mean these are respected or upheld.

In March of 2011, the Human Rights Council decided to establish the mandate of “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran”; Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the former foreign minister of the Maldives, was appointed to the position.  The mission of the Special Rapporteur is to observe the human rights situation in Iran and to investigate cases of human rights violations.

The UN Special Rapporteurs deal with specific issue areas within the human rights field and then write a report on their respective theme each year.  Thus, the Special Rapporteurs must repeatedly address the human rights situation in Iran.

The Human Rights Council was created in March 2005 to replace the Human Rights Commission and was intended to strengthen the human rights structures of the United Nations. The Commission has been strongly criticized over a long period of time by human rights organizations and governments because it has not delivered any concrete results. In 2011, the Human Rights Council established a mandate for a “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran”

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the UN Committee for Human Rights, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination also deal with Iran.

The UN Working Group examines cases of arbitrary detention which violate the human rights. Most recently, the Working Group, among others, dealt with the case of the Iranian human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani and demanded his immediate release.