Iran: Focus Should Be on Human Rights
A prominent Iranian Journalist has spoken out against what he sees as UN ineffectiveness and a preoccupation with the nuclear issue, at the cost of human rights in
Below are extracts from an interview on Radio Farda, published by Radio Free Europe/Radio
Akbar Ganji is a prominent Iranian journalist and pro-democracy activist who spent six years in prison for his critical views. He is currently in the
Ganji is considered one of
Radio Farda: Since you traveled to Europe and the
Akbar Ganji: In the letter, I explained the systematic, organized, and ongoing violation of human rights in
I strongly believe that
Two hundred prominent writers, intellectuals, and academics from all over the world signed this letter and supported my argument for giving this matter the highest priority.
Radio Farda: What do you think the UN could do in this respect?
Ganji: Let me explain that I understand the UN's position. The UN is more an organization of governments than of nations. Among its members, many undemocratic governments are not the real representatives of the people they govern; therefore, it is not easy to reach a consensus over human rights issues when it has to rely on the votes of such governments.
For example, on the present Human Rights Commission there are member countries like
To address this problem, I believe the UN's secretary-general should use the authority of his position to set up an organization like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to preside over the issue of human rights, which could then influence the issue of human rights in countries like
Radio Farda: As you mentioned, the United Nations does not have any decisive executive power. Do you think it can give any practical response to your request?
Ganji: Although I believe it is difficult to reach a consensus over issues as such in the UN...if there is enough resolve on this matter, the UN Security Council can pass resolutions with international legal ramifications and enforcement attributes.
Radio Farda: The UN can pass resolutions, but what if they are ignored -- as some have been in the past?
Ganji: Well, this is the main issue. I believe there are mechanisms for enforcing these resolutions. The problem is that, at present, "human rights" is not the primary issue in dealing with
Radio Farda: You are not the first person to write to the UN regarding
Ganji: It is true that a number of people have already written to the UN regarding the violation of human rights in