The new UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, former Maldivian Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed, has appealed to the Iranian government to extend its full cooperation with his mandate after the Islamic republic refused to permit the Special Rapporteur to enter the country.
In July, Iran’s secretary general of the high council for human rights dismissed “the western-engineered appointment” of Dr Shaheed as Special Rapporteur as”an illegal measure,” according to the Tehran Times.
“Iran has no problem with the individual who has been appointed as the special rapporteur, but the appointment of a rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran is unacceptable and Iran will not accept the decision,” Mohammad Javad Larijani was quoted as saying.
According to according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Dr Shaheed however expressed hope that “the Iranian authorities will view my mandate as a secure and legitimate space in which to take steps to comply with its international human rights obligations, as well as an opportunity to address the areas of concern communicated to Iran during its interactions with the international community on human rights issues.”
Dr Shaheed said on his first day as Special Rapporteur that the new mandate “provides an opportunity for Iran to engage on a range of human rights issues that have been raised by the international community.”
“I issued a written communication to the Iranian authorities to introduce myself and express my interest in visiting the country,” he said. “My first report shall be submitted to the sixty-sixth session of General Assembly, and I have sought meetings with the Iranian Ambassador to the UN Offices in Geneva ahead of that date to discuss a platform for cooperation in the months ahead.”
According to a statement by the OHCHR, Dr Shaheed is seeking cooperation of the Iranian authorities in the interest of fair and accurate reporting on its human rights situation, and developing constructive engagement between Iran and the UN human rights machinery.
“Every effort shall be made to demonstrate both the steps that the Iranian authorities can take to comply with Iran’s international obligations, as well as to draw attention to the grievances of those who feel victimized by alleged human rights violations,” Shaheed stressed.
Dr Shaheed resigned as Foreign Policy Advisor to the President this week before officially commencing his duties as Special Rapporteur on August 1, 2011. Prior to his appointment as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran on June 17, 2011, Dr Shaheed served as foreign minister under both the incumbent and previous administrations.
In an interview with Minivan News following his appointment, Dr Shaheed conceded that the Iranian government’s refusal to allow the Special Rapporteur to enter the country was “a challenge, but by and large they come around in the end.”
“The last time a Special Rapporteur was in Iran was in 1996. Countries eventually come round, but it takes time,” he said. “The work of the special rapporteur is structured in such a way that even if a field visit is not possible the work can continue.”