Former Foreign Minister of the Maldives Dr Ahmed Shaheed has been appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, a high-profile post in the UN system.
The 47 Member States of the Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the appointment of Dr Shaheed after he was selected from a list of candidates by the President of the Council.
Current Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Naseem said that only five years ago “it would not have been inconceivable for the United Nations to establish a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Maldives, such was the former government’s poor human rights record.
“Today, a Maldivian has been elected Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, one of the most important human rights posts in the international system. This is, I think, indicative of the enormous strides we have taken over recent years and the high regard in which we are now held by the international community”.
Special Rapporteurs are endorsed by the Council to investigate countries and themes around the world, such as freedom of expression. Candidates are usually figures with a record of experience dealing with the international community and other nation states.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry noted that Dr Shaheed’s appointment was the first-time a Maldivian had ever been appointed to hold a UN Special Rapporteur mandate.
The decision to establish a Special Rapporteur on Iran was made in 2011 after the deterioration of human rights in the country following the 2009 election, in which the Iranian government was found by the UN to have used excessive force, arbitrary arrests and detentions, unfair trials and “possible torture and ill-treatment of opposition activists in relation to post-election unrest in 2009.”
The UN called on Iran to cooperate with Dr Shaheed and permit his access to the country, as well as provide necessary information. He will present his findings to the UN General Assembly in September 2011, and produce a full report on the situation for the UN Human Rights Council in March 2012.