The UN Security Council on November 2 held an informal meeting on the bloody crackdown by the Islamic Republic of Iran on a wave of protests that has rocked the country for the past six weeks. Iran's UN mission had called for the cancellation of the meeting, alleging that holding it would be "illegal." Why was this meeting historic, and what are its expected results?
It is the first time since the founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran 43 years ago that the UN Security Council, a body whose primary responsibility is to maintain international peace and security, has examined the issue of human rights in Iran.
Iranians have witnessed all sorts of rights abuses throughout these years, but the council had not held any substantive and detailed discussion about the Islamic Republic’s policies.
Was it useful?
The meeting achieved two things. First, the issue of the killings in Iran was raised at the most important international institution.
It also sent a powerful message to the protesters: policy changes should come from within the country, but the international community will fulfil its duties.
The United States and Albania jointly called for the gathering. For a formal meeting to take place, it must be called by the presidency of the Security Council, which is currently held by Ghana, and all the other 14 member states must participate.
The meeting on Iran was not set to lead to any decision or vote on a draft resolution, so it doesn’t really matter whether it was held in a formal or informal format.
All permanent members, including China and Russia, as well as non-permanent members, attended the meeting, expressing their views about the current situation in Iran.
Who supported Iran?
The Chinese and Russia representatives called the crackdown on protests by the Iranian armed forces a domestic matter.
China said the Iranian government was able to deal with the situation, while Russia called the meeting an interference in Iran’s political affairs.
Why did Albania and the United States host the meeting?
In recent months, the government of Albania has been targeted by massive Iranian cyberattacks and has severed its relations with Tehran.
The United States has consistently denounced human rights abuses in Iran, including the ongoing crackdown on protests.
Did Iran attend?
No representative of the Islamic Republic participated in the meeting.
Its permanent representative tried to cancel the gathering, making the unfounded allegation that it was "illegal."
Any member state of the Security Council can initiate a meeting on issues it considers as being related to international peace and security.
Which Iranian figures were present?
The Iranian protesters were represented by Iranian-British actress Nazanin Bonyadi and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.
Bonyadi said that the protesters and the majority of the Iranian people no longer want the Islamic Republic. Ebadi cited examples of gross human rights violations committed by the Iranian regime such as the firing tear gas in hospitals.
Both activists asked the Security Council and members of the international community to intervene and prevent the killing of Iranians.
Ebadi called for establishing an independent mechanism to investigate human rights violations in Iran. “It is unacceptable that a government responsible for such a level of human rights violations runs the country," she said.
For what results?
A number of Security Council member states announced they intended to expel Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and draft a resolution condemning the Islamic Republic at the UN General Assembly.
The informal meeting could also lead to discussions on Ebadi's request regarding the launch of a probe.