US officials and human rights groups objected after Iran’s envoy to the United Nations was allowed to chair a Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva last Thursday, describing it as an “insult” given the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses, Reuters reported.
Ali Bahreini, Iran’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, was named as the chair of the 2-day meeting only because he was the only one nominated to do it, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Council told Reuters.
Michèle Taylor, the US envoy to the 47-member human rights council boycotted last week’s meeting, describing Bahreini’s appointment as an “affront” to the global community’s “collective conscience.”
Taylor said allowing the meeting to be led by a representative of a country that infringes on its citizens’ human rights would be “fruitless” and “an insult to our shared ideals.”
The 2-day meeting, described as a “social forum,” is an annual gathering aimed at improving dialogue between world governments and civil society organizations. The theme of last week’s meeting was human rights and technology.
In opening the meeting last Thursday, Bahreini appeared to call out Western sanctions against his country when he referred to “colonial policies” that he claimed are depriving countries of revenue and hindering knowledge sharing and technology transfers.
While attendance at last Thursday’s session was low, Reuters was unable to determine how many countries were absent due to the boycott over Behreini chairing the meeting. Representatives from countries with good relations with Iran attended the meeting and spoke during the session, including representatives from Cuba, China, and Venezuela.
Women’s Human Rights International Association President Farideh Karimi, an Iranian, told Reuters that her group petitioned democratic countries asking them to boycott the 2-day meeting. Karimi said it was insulting that a man from a “regime that is against women” was appointed to chair the meeting.