Tehran (The Times Groupe)- Critics say Iran tries to deflect attention from its human rights violations by allowing a UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral sanctions to visit the country.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights, Alena Douhan, will arrive in Iran on Saturday. The professor of international law at the Belarussian State University, Douhan is an expert in international law, sanctions, and human rights law.
Douhan will meet with numerous Iranian officials as well as officials of various UN agencies in Tehran, non-governmental organizations, business representatives, and academics during her 11-day visit.
A group of eleven human rights organizations called on the government to stop using the system of UN human rights monitors as a means of deflecting attention from its well-documented record of human rights violations in a joint statement Friday.
The signatories of the statement, including the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, All Human Rights for All, and Article 19, protested the UN’s decision to send Douhan to Iran, despite the reluctance of Iran to receive any UN human rights special rapporteur in the past seventeen years.
Neither Iran has allowed any visits by the fourteen UN human rights experts who have sought to monitor the situation of human rights in Iran, including the UN Special Rapporteurs.
“As the mandate on unilateral coercive measures is unique, it calls on the mandate holder to assess primarily – but not exclusively – the responsibility of sanctioning states for rights violations in sanctioned states’ territory,” the statement said.
“The Iranian authorities exploit the visit of the only expert whose mandate is to examine external actors’ liability to blunt examination of their own record of non-cooperation with the UN human rights system.”
“Iran’s ruling clerics have been condemned 68 times by the United Nations for brutal and systematic human rights abuses, by inviting the UN Special Rapporteur, they aim to undermine international sanctions and dodge blame for their incompetence and shortcomings,” according to a commentary on Iran Wire’s website April 25.
In 2014, the UN Human Rights Council created this position with a resolution proposed by Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
It emphasizes that unilateral sanctions, meaning those not approved by the UN Security Council, are contrary to international law, and that these measures may long term cause social problems and raise humanitarian concerns for the targeted countries.
As a result, she only condemns sanctions against non-democratic countries while remaining largely silent regarding violations committed by Iran, Syria, and Belarus. Arguments that only Security Council sanctions are legal ignore the fact that countries such as Russia and China can easily veto any resolution meant to punish an authoritarian government for massive rights violations.
Douhan has been serving as the UN rapporteur on US unilateral sanctions against Venezuela since August 2020 and Saudi Arabia’s sanctions against Qatar since November 2020. Douhan stated in December 2020 that US sanctions against Syria’s government could hinder the rebuilding of infrastructure destroyed by the conflict and violate the human rights of Syrians.”