03/12/2013 Blog

General Assembly an important forum for dialogue on human rights

UN General Assembly

The substantive international dialogue with Iran on human rights at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) two weeks ago was a very important symbol and signal for international human rights support.

While I am not involved in intergovernmental discussions around the annual UNGA human rights resolution on Iran, I did follow the debate and noted that it featured many of the same vital issues as the interactive dialogue I held with States earlier in the month.

In particular, the debate and the resolution combined positive international reaction to recent human rights announcements from President Rouhani on issues such as eliminating discrimination against women, minority rights, and freedom of expression, with a strong call for demonstrable improvements as soon as possible.

The General Assembly, which brings together all UN member states, is undoubtedly an important platform for continued dialogue with Iran, and the annual debate and consideration of the resolution help reforms by maintaining a spotlight on the human rights challenges facing the country.

As I have repeatedly noted, now is not the time to focus less on Iran and its human rights record, but rather more, in order to support Government officials earnestly looking to improve the situation. For the most part, public statements have not translated into concrete action on the ground, and many victims of human rights violations continue to suffer.

It is therefore important for the international community — as a show of support for rights in Iran and for those in Government who are advocating for them — to keep talking about human rights in the country. The UNGA did just that in its debate two weeks ago.