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Testimony at the UN

Statement to the UN Human Rights Council on Item 4: Human Rights Situations that Require the Council's Attention

Speech before UN Human Rights Council 6th Session
24 September 2007

Delivered by Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch


Mr. President, we meet to address urgent human rights situations.  There are so many. But if we look to the highest authorities of the UN, one country stands out:  the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security. But the illicit nuclear program of President Ahmadinejad potentially threatens these rights for millions, near and far. That's why the Security Council, acting under Chapter VII against threats to the peace, held Iran to be in breach, and imposed sanctions.

The Iranian leader speaks at the UN about "human dignity and justice." Yet the UN itself -- GA Resolution 61/176 -- found that Iran treats its own people with neither dignity nor justice. It called on Iran:

  • to end its use of torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment;
  • to end its execution of minors, and its violence and discrimination against women;
  • to end its discrimination against minorities, including Arabs, Azeris, Baluchis, Kurds, Christians, Jews, Sufis, Sunni Muslims, and the Baha'i.

Mr. President, Iran's policy of racism was on world display when it hosted the Tehran conference denying the Nazi Holocaust. The GA responded with a condemnation of Holocaust denial, which Iran alone refused to support.1

This council's expert on racism said the following: "By organizing this conference, President Ahmadinejad demonstrated his intention to legitimize the revisionism of other forms of racism by inviting symbolic figures of anti-black racism, such as the Ku Klux Klan, whose main platform is the racial inferiority of black people and the need for their physical elimination."2

But it's worse. Iran's president not only denies genocide, but he incites to genocide. When he first threatened to "wipe Israel off the map," he was condemned by Kofi Annan and the Security Council.3 When he called for the "destruction of the Zionist regime," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his shock and dismay.4

Dr. Hamburg, an advisor to the Secretary-General on genocide, said that he could not recall anyone "since Hitler who so repeatedly and explicitly called for genocide," and he warned of the combustible conjunction of this with nuclear weapons capability.5

Mr. President, does the UN have an answer for a government that tramples human rights, practices racism, denies the Holocaust, incites to genocide and threatens international peace?

It does. Under Article 6 of the UN Charter, a country that persistently violates the Charter’s principles may be expelled.

And the correct answer for a government leader who commits such acts is not an invitation to a UN podium and global platform.

It is the response recommended by Noble Laureate and UN Messenger of Peace Eli Wiesel:  the indictment of President Ahmadinejad under the Genocide Convention.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Check Against Delivery

1 Additionally, on the day he was sworn in as new Secretary-General, Mr. Ban also spoke out. He was asked about Iran's conference on the scale and nature of the slaughter of 6 million Jews. "Denying historical facts, especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust, is just not acceptable," he replied. "Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of any State or people."

2 Doudou Diene, UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, Report of May 2007, A/HRC/5/10 at 21.

3 "The members of the Security Council condemn the remarks about Israel attributed to H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The members of the Security Council support the Secretary-General's statement of 27 October noting that, under the United Nations Charter, all Members have undertaken to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State." Security Council Press Statement on Iran, 28 October 2005.

4 "The Secretary-General was shocked and dismayed at the remarks attacking Israel attributed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, on 3 June, in which he says repeatedly that the world could witness the "destruction of the Zionist regime" soon.  The Secretary-General points out that the State of Israel is a full and long-standing Member of the United Nations with the same rights and obligations as every other Member.  He reminds that, under the United Nations Charter, all Members have undertaken to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State. The Secretary-General has repeatedly made his views clear on this issue." Secretary-General Shocked By Iran President's Remarks Attacking Israel, 7 June 2007.

5 "Remembrance and Beyond: The United Nations and the Response to Genocide" on September 14, 2006, at UN Headquarters in New York, UN Webcast video at 1:36:00.

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