Most recent Western reports on Iran have centered on the nuclear talks, the framework agreement, and the financial implications thereof. Iran’s human rights abuses have been pushed aside. Apparently, quite a bit, particularly when the government suppressing human rights is the same one signing nuclear commitments.
Some media outlets have picked up on the discrepancy. In a recent analysis on The Tower, Ben Cohen lamented the fact that much of the diplomatic engagement with Iran today – unlike that of the past – fails to distinguish between Iran’s people and its government, reflecting “ambiguity” on human rights by treating said government as “essentially benign.”
When speaking of the benefits a nuclear deal would bring to the Iranian people, wrote Cohen, world leaders do not list basic freedoms among them – because that change isn’t coming to Iran anytime soon, if the latest report by Ahmed Shaheed the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Iran is any indication.
Though Cohen cited Shaheed’s 2015 report (and interviewed him as well), few other outlets did, especially not in connection with the nuclear deal. One notable exception was The Guardian, which published an op-ed last month by Mahdieh Javid and Firuzeh Mahmoudi bluntly titled, “We have to stop nuclear negotiations from overshadowing Iran’s human rights record.”
And yet, despite Shaheed’s latest report, and despite the voices demanding that human rights be on the table, the world isn’t insisting that Iran improve its rights records before it is released from the yoke of sanctions and isolation. On the contrary: Iran was recently appointed to the executive board of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), among other bodies, effective next year. With Iran now elevated, with international support, to “a global leadership post on women’s equality,” in the words of UN Watch, it seems the country’s women – and men – will have to wait even longer for change. In the meantime, they’ll have to be content with centrifuges.