The world has watched in horror as the unrelenting violence in Iran continues to unfold several months after the disputed June 12 presidential elections. Now the international community has a tremendous opportunity to send a clear message to Iranian authorities that the massive human rights violations they have perpetrated are simply unacceptable.
This opportunity is the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Iran by the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) next month. Under this process, the human rights records of all member nations of the U.N. are reviewed, on a staggered schedule, every four years. There are three sessions per year, with sixteen countries reviewed per session. This process replaces the previous Commission on Human Rights, which could decide which countries to consider, whereas in the new process, all U.N. member states are automatically reviewed. This new procedure is intended to eliminate the possibility of deciding to review certain countries for political reasons and to address the criticism of double standards which were made against the Commission.
The purpose of the UPR process is to improve the situation of human rights situation in the country reviewed; to enhance the fulfillment of each state of its human rights obligations and commitments; to share best practice in the promotion and protection of human rights among States; and to strengthen the cooperation by States with the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms.
The outcome of the UPR process will be a report approved by the HRC, and which will include recommendations for addressing compliance with human rights obligations. Amnesty International’s goal is to insure that the resulting report and recommendations are as strong as possible. The Iranian government has persistently claimed that countries with which it has historically had hostile relations, such as the United States and United Kingdom, have been orchestrating criticism of its human rights record for political purposes. A strong report endorsed by the entire HRC would be a rebuke to the Iranian government and a signal that the international community as a whole abhors its deplorable human rights abuses.