Sunday, April 25, 2010

For Immediate Release

UN: Iran’s Withdrawal From Seeking Council Seat a Victory for Rights
Contested Races Needed in All Regions to Improve Human Rights Council Membership

(New York, April 23, 2010) – Iran’s withdrawal from the race for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council is a victory for human rights and those who seek a stronger UN human rights body, Human Rights Watch said today. However, further improvements to the council’s membership require giving states a choice of candidates in all regions, Human Rights Watch said.
“Iran saw the writing on the wall in the face of mounting global opposition over its abysmal human rights record,” said Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Iran’s withdrawal shows that international pressure can work to improve the council’s membership.”
Iran had declared its candidacy for the Human Rights Council in February, and was one of five states from the UN’s Asia regional group running for election this year for the four seats from that regional group. The other declared candidates are Malaysia, Maldives, Qatar, and Thailand. The UN General Assembly will elect 14 new members to the council on May 13, 2010.
Under the UN General Assembly resolution that established the Human Rights Council in 2006, council members are expected to “uphold the highest standards” of human rights. Yet the General Assembly had adopted a resolution last December expressing “its deep concern at serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” The resolution followed condemnations of the human rights situation in Iran by the General Assembly on close to a yearly basis since 1985. A group of prominent Iranian human rights defenders, including the Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, had publicly opposed Iran’s candidacy for the council.
“Iran’s bid for a council seat provided a spotlight on the widespread human rights abuses in Iran, including the severe repression following last June’s elections,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “We hope that the Iranian government will now focus its efforts on improving its human rights qualifications for membership.”

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