Monitoring a Human Crisis

Iranians can take comfort that the international community is finally answering their call


Monitoring a Human Crisis
by David Elliott

The international community took its strongest action to-date in support of human rights in Iran today, in a major victory for President Obama’s policy of engagement at the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC). Yet, this accomplishment did not come without controversy. Only four days before, the Chairwoman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican-Floria), launched a withering attack against the international human rights body and announced her intention to introduce legislation that would block the United States from running for reelection at the HRC.

Thanks to its active presence on the HRC, the Obama administration was able to work with Sweden and a broad coalition of cross-regional partners to ensure the Council took action on Iran. This groundwork paid off today as the HRC voted to establish an independent human rights monitor on Iran to address the ongoing human rights crisis.

The need for a monitor is clear. Iran’s dismal human rights record has only been getting worse, with the Iranian government going on an “execution binge” and severe penalties for political dissent that have even landed 28 journalists and 9 bloggers in prison.

An independent human rights monitor can provide greater transparency and protect victims by focusing international attention and scrutiny on the Iranian government’s abuses. In fact, a recent study by the Brookings Institution found that human rights monitors are “one of the most effective tools of the international human rights system.”

A human rights monitor was in place for Iran from 1984 to 2002, and Iran’s human rights situation did improve over that time. But the vote to renew the monitor lost by one vote in 2002, while the United States was absent from the UN Human Rights Commission under the Bush administration. Instead, the United States was left to criticize Iran from afar with nothing concrete to actually show for it. Now we see the Obama administration picking up the pieces and rebuilding the international consensus necessary to have a measurable impact on this issue. However, if Ros-Lehtinen gets her way, the effort will come to a crashing halt and a unique opportunity to truly support human rights in Iran would be squandered.

In the case of Iran, a monitor is especially important since the Iranian government is surprisingly sensitive to criticism of its human rights violations. The New York Times’ former Iran correspondent, Nazila Fathi, recently testified that international pressure on human rights makes a difference. She explained that the government constantly pressured her not to report cases of human rights violations or the number of executions that took place, and that pressure was reduced on prisoners when their cases were publicized or when the international community issued statements of concern.

Perhaps this is why Iran’s government has worked so feverishly at the UN and the HRC to block efforts to scrutinize its human rights violations. Recent reports from diplomats in Geneva indicate that Iran lobbied the often-sympathetic Organization of Islamic Conference and Non-Aligned Movement states on the HRC to block the vote to establish a monitor. But like its bid to join the HRC last year, Iran’s efforts were thwarted thanks to the vigorous efforts of the United States at the international human rights body.

As the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Suzanne Nossel said at the National Iranian American Council’s recent human rights conference on Capitol Hill, an international rights monitor “carries the imprimatur of the entire international community, and in this case would deliver information and messages that would be difficult for Tehran to dismiss or counter.” In short, an international human rights monitor has more credibility and carries more weight than the statements of any one country.

There’s little likelihood that this success will sway Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen from pushing forward her legislation attacking U.S. participation at the HRC. Skeptics will argue that the action came too late, although the inconvenient truth is that the United States was reluctant to press the issue earlier, fearing it would divert political capital from its efforts to increase international sanctions to punish Iran for its nuclear program. But in Iran’s century long struggle for democracy, it is better for international action on human rights to have come late than never. And it is safe to say that this action would have never happened without strong backing from the United States.

So while Iran’s diplomats, including its Deputy Foreign Minister, lost the battle at the United Nations Human Rights Council, they can take comfort that if Ros-Lehtinen succeeds their job will be much easier next time. But for now, the Iranian people can take comfort that the international community is finally answering their call for human rights.


David Elliott is the assistant policy director for the National Iranian American Council. This article first appeared in the Congressional newspaper, "The Hill".


Esfand Aashena

Hypocricy or not Islamic Republic tops Human rights abuse.

by Esfand Aashena on

Everything is sacred

G. Rahmanian

No More Lame Excuses!

by G. Rahmanian on

Real Iranians care about Iran and wha is happening inside Iran, first and foremost. No more lame excuses to whitewash the heinous crimes committed by the ruthless thugs of the Islamic Republic.

Why aren't IR mercenaries comparing Iran with the most advanced countries in the world? Why should Iranians care about other countries when their own country is ruled by the most backward and barbaric laws.


Human right during shah's days

by Siavash300 on

Despite of what mullah's propaganda machine of human right violation during shah days were said, we were surprised to see the other way around. During 1976, following Jimmy Carter's human right in Iran, we witnessed the freedom of publications which were banned for many years such as Godfly, Mother from Maxim Gorcky, etc. So many literatures were permitted to be published because of Jimmy Carter critical view of shah for more freedom in Iran. Human right organization was monitoring those activities afterward.  In 1979, during days of revolution, the Evin prison was opened to the public for few days and we were able to visit all cells and restricted areas. People were looking to find the fearful areas and some horoble sections that mullahs were claiming about shah,but we were surprised to find those area never existed and Evin prison met the international standards according to human right that Jimmy Carter was discussing. We found out all mullahs claims were hoax and deception. Stinky mullahs were able to use lies, false accusation and propaganda against shah in order to obtain power. Since they came to power they were using U.S and Israel as a escape goat to cover their crimes. What a guilable nation we have. Some of our country men and women are still were under spell of mullahs. They still repeat whatever mullahs claim to justify their crimes against humanity. If you don't believe me, just read some comments in this site.  



by Rea on

Good news.


Thank you United States for backing this action.

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

American people must know that Iranains are not a bunch of foreign hating islamist terrorists,  unlike the criminal terrorist islamist minority gang who are ruling our country for now. They must know that when their government acts in support of Iranian people and not for the oil supply, they have our gratitude and promise of future friendship..

"Personal business must yield to collective interest."


Every 8 hours, one get executed in 2011

by Siavash300 on

Thanks David for sharing this information with Iranians. Every 8 hours , one person get executed in Iran. Stinky ruling mullahs label any voice of oppositions agent of America and Israel. They learn something and they repeat it again and again.lik a broken record. They kill our brother and sister and blame it on America and Israel. Can you see how dumb it sounds, but you will be surprise to see some of these idiots repeat stinky mullah's logic on this site. Just take a look and you will know what I am talking about.  We need firm observation and close scrutiny from international committe over these Islamic animals. Stinky ruling mullahs also promoting prostitutions by making Segheh. One of them has 16 Segheh (temp. marriage). They are criminal gang and they are in minority, but they have gun in their hands and rule over majority. Iranians are expecting from international committe to do something about that issue as well.

Afshin Ehx

Thank You Joe L.

by Afshin Ehx on

Thank you Joe L. for exposing the hypocrisy and double standards here. I want to add that if the U.S. is genuinely interested in the issue of human rights, it should pay much more attention to abuses in Saudi Arabia, Israel, …, and should have done the same while Shah or Mubarak,… were in power.

Human rights for the U.S. is a political issue and not a moral one.

G. Rahmanian

Not Seeing vs Not Wanting To See!

by G. Rahmanian on

Some years ago I was telling an Iranian about another country and its human rights abuses. Perhaps not noticing such abuses himself, or as I would like to say in such cases, not wanting to notice them, he tried to argue with me. I showed him a copy of a report prepared by the UN's Special Rapporteur, and he still tried to argue against the existence of such abuses.

Until two years ago, many people in the world would have seen such efforts as tactics by the opposition to discredit the regime. Now that they have seen regime's brutalities live, it is easier to convince them of the human rights abuses committed by the ruthless mullahs and their goons.



Joe there is NO problem with this

by IranFirst on

Many many countries (not just US and Wes) voted for this. Brazil, Guatemala, Senegal, Japan, S. Korea....

The Human consious of all these countries agrees with Iranains that this regime of terror needs to be watched and stopped from crimes against its people and against humanity. At the moment Iran has the highest per capita executions in the WORLD (more than Chaina). IRI crimes can not be going on forever. I wish democracy for other countries in the ME and for China too, but Iran is definetly on the top of the list of the Human rights violators of the world and needs to be dealt with now



کور ،کچل ،بسیجی ،ساندیس خور ،پاسدار و ملا.....حمام باید گردن



Joe L.

there is a problem with this

by Joe L. on

see, i dont mind iran being watched by others in regards to human rights. however this is more political than human rights issue. all the western allies in the third world are dictatorial and horrible, we just dont hear it. they are not under the microscope like iran. so have that in mind then everything is cool. human rights is human rights whether you are nice to your people and kill others or the other way around! get it?


Tavana, Kooshan, are you

by vildemose on

Tavana, Kooshan, are you still editor of the Caspian whatever organization?

Why aren't you on RaceforIran blog? the Dyanmic duo, the leverttes??

G. Rahmanian

Libya Is Not Iraq!

by G. Rahmanian on

As a very intelligent Arab, Rami G. Khouri, a Palestinian-Jordanian and director of Assam Fares Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut said recently, the world cannot stand by while Qaddafi is killing Libyans. Although he has argued against foreign military interventions before, he sees the situation in Libya as a whole different ball game. Qaddafi is already using foreign mercenaries to kill Libyans.

It is amusing to see IR mercenaries shedding crocodile tears for the Libyans.

G. Rahmanian

هديه نوروزي سازمان ملل به ايرنيان

G. Rahmanian

For the past 32 years Iranians have had to deal with the most brutal rulers in their country's history. Now, the world has finally shown interest in the human rights abuses of the ruthless mullahs and their hired goons.

In this context, it is only natural for IR mercenaries to be infuriated. Such reaction from these mercenaries only proves how positively significant this decision by the UN is for tens of millions of Iranians who are suffering under the yoke of the backward Islamic regime.



An Internation Comforter???

by Tavana on

Lies about weapons of the mass destruction to occupy Iraq, Lies about Alqada to occupy Afghanistan, Lies about LIbya to destroy its air defence system through a "no fly" zone, & now comforting Iranians by spreading an "international comforter" over their heads. Who is fooling who here? UN has no power & no credibility whatsoever to be trusted with anything. Iranians instead need an honest book keeper to let them know of their rights with their vast mineral resources & that where the money had been going from their "right" & "left" by the Iranian regime for the past 32 years. The "human crisis" is nothing but a detractor made up by the international mafia oil cartel to keep the poor human at the bay.


Niac aziz, Khoda avazet

by vildemose on

Niac aziz, Khoda avazet bedeh. Yek kar khair kardi. Omidvaram bishtar az in kara bokoni.


Israel was arming the IRI??

by vildemose on

Israel was arming the IRI?? Hass, who are you? Why do you even bother with Iranian issues?? You're not Iranian.


Thanks NIAC for your share of efforts on this

by Bavafa on

Protecting and defending Human rights in Iran and else where is every [decent] human being obligation and NIAC's effort in this regard needs to be recognized as well as all others who have been doing so for years, like those brave lawyers (Nasrin Sotodeh or Miss. Ebadi to name a few) in Iran that have paid a high price for their [high moral] principals. 




by afshinazad on


what will bring to Iranian, will it make the regime free prisoners or will have the power to take regime to court and will it punish IRI bustards to pay what they are doing or they have done till now? But it is better than nothing and following step should be heroes of Iran should rise up with one voice to topple the evil regime.



haha NIAC going to take credit for this

by seannewyork on

these guys wont stop, they were the people that said this regime is ok to deal with, they will abide by any deals, to cut funding for human rights groups in US and now they want to take credit for all the hard work done by so many human rights orgs.

James D.

Good Work NIAC

by James D. on

Thanks to the hard work of NIAC and other human rights activists/orgs, the international community is FINALLY coming together to recognize and do something about the crisis in Iran.  This is a significant forward.

The US and Sweden were instrumental in getting this monitor passed and spoke about their efforts at NIAC's recent human rights conference.  The addresses by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Suzanne Nossel and Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafström are well worth watching: //www.niacouncil.orgs/site/News2pageNewsArt...

The one thing that Iranians almost unanimously agree on is that more international attention is needed on the human rights situation in Iran.  Good work, NIAC!


Hypocricy is not human rights

by hass on

Yeah, Iranians can "take comfort" that the same countries that were arming Saddam with chemical weapons to be used against Iran are now worried about the human rights of Iranians. Gotcha. ANd yes this includes Brazil.