The protests in Iran continue: What will be on the agenda at today’s special session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva?

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock special session of the UN Human Rights Council on Iran

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock special session of the UN Human Rights Council on Iran, © Thomas Koehler/photothek.de

24.11.2022 - Article

The protests in Iran are continuing unabated. Iranians are defying the violence of the country’s regime. The UN says that more than 300 people have already been killed, including more than 40 children. What will be on the agenda at today’s special session of the UN Human Rights Council on Iran?

UN Human Rights Council building - interior view
A special session of the UN Human Rights Council will be held on Iran© dpa

Germany initiated this special session together with 50 partners in order to discuss the human rights violations that have taken place during the nationwide protests in Iran. A resolution is set to be introduced at today’s session that will call on Iran to end the repression and violence against its own people. The resolution also provides for an independent investigative mission to document human rights violations in Iran in the context of the protests. This investigative mechanism is a way to lay the groundwork for bringing those responsible to justice, by not just collecting facts on human rights violations but consolidating these facts for use in potential legal proceedings. To ensure that human rights violations in Iran do not go unexamined and that those who are treating human beings with contempt and disregarding their human rights in Iran do not think this will go unpunished.

What is needed today?

Protests in Iran
Protests in Iran© picture alliance / abaca

The resolution can be approved by a simple majority (meaning more “yes” than “no” votes) of the 47 members of the Council. We have fought hard in recent days and weeks for this resolution to be approved, because majorities on the Human Rights Council cannot be taken for granted. This is what makes it so important for Germany to look very closely at the situation, to stand up within this forum for the indivisible rights of each and every human being and to seek support for the approval of this resolution from partners worldwide.

What would be new about this investigative mechanism?

There is already a UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman. He has plenty of work to do monitoring and reporting on a range of human rights in Iran. And his mandate does not cover, for example, forensic analysis and the preparation of evidence to ensure it is admissible in legal proceedings. If the members of the Human Rights Council approve the resolution today, this investigative mechanism will complement the Special Rapporteur’s mandate where gaps exist.


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