Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Congress calls on administration to use the Human Rights Council against Iran

Source: Foreign Policy Blog The Cable

By Josh Rogin

June 15, 2010

United Nations when it comes to Iran, but in a resolution passed just now, Congress urged the administration to initiate a case against Iran at the controversial Human Rights Council.

The bipartisan resolution, which passed with a unanimous voice vote, was brought to the Senate floor Monday to mark the one year anniversary of flawed Iranian presidential elections that sparked widespread violence and repression throughout Iran. It notes that the "Government of Iran has systematically undertaken a campaign of violence, persecution, and intimidation against Iranian citizens who have peacefully protested the results of the deeply flawed Iran presidential elections."

But later on, the resolution "encourages the President and Secretary of State to work with the United Nations Human Rights Council to condemn the ongoing human rights violations perpetrated by the Government of Iran and establish a monitoring mechanism by which the Council can monitor such violations."

Critics say the 47-member Human Rights Council, which the Obama administration signed America up for after a long absence, has been hijacked since its inception by notorious human rights violators such as Cuba, China, and Egypt.

Established in March 2006 to replace the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, George W. Bush's administration refused to join, citing the council's nondemocratic makeup and its frequent criticisms of Israel, but the Obama administration reversed that decision last spring.

Their most recent act was to call for an investigation into the Israeli actions regarding the Gaza flotilla incident.

The council is also currently reviewing Iran's human rights record as part of its Universal Periodic Review process, but nothing close to a harsh condemnation is expected. To see how the Human Rights Council is treating Iran in the review, read this.

So now that the full Senate has called on the administration to use the Human Rights Council to initiative new action against Iran, what does that mean?

The lead sponsors of the resolution are Ted KAUFMAN, D-DE, Bob Casey, D-PA, Joe Lieberman, I-CT, John McCain, R-AZ, Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, Russ Feingold, D-WI, Sam Brownback, R-KS, Bob Menendez, D-NJ, Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and Carl Levin, D-MI, and Jon Kyl, R-AZ.

Are they all now supporting the Obama administration's joining of that group?

Separately, McCain called on Obama to get more personally involved in Iranian democracy promotion in a speech last week.

"The United States has never had a president whose personal story resonates as strongly overseas as President Obama's does -- whose ability to inspire, to move people, to mobilize them on behalf of democratic change is one of the greatest untapped sources of strength now available to Iran's human rights activists," he said. "If the president were to unleash America's full moral power to support the Iranian people -- if he were to make their quest for democracy the civil rights struggle of our time -- it could bolster their will to endure in their struggle, and the result could be historic."

"Tonight the Senate spoke with one voice to condemn ongoing human rights abuses in Iran and mark one year since the flawed Iranian election," KAUFMAN told The Cable, "I hope the Iranian people know America stands by their side in their struggle for democracy, freedom, and human rights. A year may have passed, but the unconscionable events of June 12 and its aftermath have not been forgotten."

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