UN Wins Rare Praise for Accrediting Monitors of Iran’s Rights Record
(VOA): A U.N. council’s decision to accredit an organization highlighting Iran’s alleged human rights violations has drawn rare praise from one of the most prominent U.N. critics in the global rights community. In a Wednesday phone interview with VOA Persian, Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based group UN Watch, welcomed the United Nations’ accreditation of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC). The 54-member U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted the status to IHRDC, an American organization, Tuesday by a vote of 22 to 7, with 17 abstentions. A subordinate U.N. body, the 19-member NGO Committee, had voted against IHRDC’s application for accreditation in February, prompting the United States to appeal to ECOSOC, the larger parent body, to overturn that decision. Speaking to VOA Persian from Tel Aviv, Neuer said IHRDC’s accreditation is a “rare bit of justice” for a human rights group at the United Nations. Neuer’s UN Watch, which also has accreditation, is a frequent critic of U.N. bodies for granting influential roles to nations accused by rights activists of having poor human rights records. UN Watch also advocates against what it sees as anti-Israel bias in U.N. forums. In a Facebook statement, IHRDC cheered the U.N. accreditation as a “new chapter” in its history. It said the move will enable it to “better engage with Iran’s civil society and the international community” as it works to promote human rights and accountability in Iran. It is the first time a group with such a mission has received the status. Neuer said U.N. accreditation is significant because it allows a group to participate in U.N. meetings with diplomats as they make decisions, particularly at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. “UN Watch has brought human rights heroes from around the world — China, Cuba, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Iran — to the Human Rights Council because we have the status,” Neuer said. “Those activists were able to walk into the council, with diplomats representing their oppressors in the room, and challenge them. They get almost equal speaking time to what an ambassador gets, and that is extraordinary.” In another U.N. vote on Tuesday, ECOSOC removed Iran and Venezuela from membership of the NGO Committee for the 2019 to 2022 period. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley welcomed the ECOSOC votes as wins for human rights. In a statement, she said the NGO Committee has been “overrun by serial human rights abusers that ruin the U.N.’s credibility on human rights.” But she also said more needs to be done. “Countries with abysmal human rights records should never be allowed to police NGO access, and credible NGOs should never be blocked from participating at the U.N., especially when their work sheds light on some of the world’s worst human rights abuses,” Haley said. This report was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Persian Service.
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Published Date: Thursday, April 19th, 2018 | 12:45 PM