2/3/15: Iran’s UPR: Unfulfilled Promises

The All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group (PHRG) attended this seminar at Doughty Street Chambers organised by the Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC) and the UK Bahá’í Community.  The purpose of the meeting was to review Iran’s implementation of the recommendations it accepted during its first Universal Periodic Review, particularly those in relation to freedom of religion, women’s rights, and LGBT, and to consider those likely to be accepted at its current UPR.

The event was chaired by Kirsty Brimelow QC, Chair, BHRC, and the speakers were:

  • Payam Akhavan, Professor of International Law, McGill University. (“PA”)
  • Shadi Sadr, Iranian human rights lawyer; founder and Executive Director of Justice for Iran. (“SS”)

The key points raised at the meeting were as follows:

  • It is important for the international community to engage with Iran’s UPR process, as Iran accepts the process’ legitimacy, it is one of very few forums at which such matters are considered, and it allows Iran’s human rights community to be supported. More generally, the international community needs to closely monitor the implementation of recommendations accepted by Iran at this UPR. (SS)
  • Despite accepting at least ten recommendations directly addressing the State’s duty to protect women and girls’ right to free and informed marriages at its 2010 UPR, Iran still allows the practice of early marriage, with about 5% of girls marrying between the ages of 10 and 13, and hundreds forced to marry under the age of 10. (SS)
  • Iran’s leadership is the biggest source of incitement to violence against the Bahá’í community (PA)
  • The international community cannot allow Iran to shirk its international human rights obligations if a nuclear deal is concluded. Continuing pressure must be applied, and improvement of Iran’s economic situation (i.e., the lifting of sanctions and normalisation of trade relations) should be conditioned on an improvement on its human rights situation. (PA)
  • Iran must not be allowed to justify human rights violations by claiming that human rights must be read through a “multi-cultural lens”, as this argument is used to legitimise elements of cultural practice that harm certain groups and minorities. (SS) & (PA)