NAM Update Day 2- Iran’s democratic hypocrisy

The opening address of the 16th NAM conference taking place in Tehran confirmed suspicions that Iran intended to hijack the conference in order to promote her own agendas.

During his address, the Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi had called for “fundamental” changes in the UN structure and for the uplifting of the UN sanctions imposed upon Iran. These calls were clearly directed as an attempt to form a voting coalition composed of NAM member states in order to provide support for Iran in the upcoming UN general assembly in September.

Iran clearly has many issues with the UN:

  • Economic: the current economic sanctions against Iran are based on UN resolutions and Iran is doing her best to rally it’s NAM allies to free itself from these sanctions by either selling its oil directly to other countries or by creating a voting coalition to drop the sanctions.
  • Nuclear: after three rounds of talks between Iran and the IAEA, a UN organization, access for IAEA inspectors is still denied to certain sites and numerous key questions remain unanswered leading to growing suspicions that Iran’s nuclear program is meant for military and political purposes.
  • Political: Iran makes it no secret that it believes that the UN is less than fair in its dealings with Iran through pressure by “colonialist-imperialist” countries such as the UN and EU countries.

It is therefore obvious that Iran wants to position NAM members with her against the UN. Ironically, Mr. Salehi stated that Iran’s support for restructuring the UN comes from concern for the democratic process within the UN. However, it seems that Iran’s concern for democratic processes is in stark contrast with her actions over the past decades and within the conference itself including a much publicized  meeting with North Korean foreign minister Pak Ui-Chun.

Not only did Mr.Salehi not protest against North Korea’s undemocratic nature, but he actually declared Iran’s readiness for expanding bilateral relations between Iran and North Korea.

Iran’s dubious actions in supporting democracy do not end with the expressed intention of expanding bilateral relationships with North Korea, but also extend to the fact that during the conference Iran intends to host representatives from a further brutal dictatorship- Syria. Hosting representatives from the Syrian dictatorship is a direct continuation of Iran’s military and diplomatic efforts to help Assad regain control in Syria.

Indeed, it is interesting to note that the three countries (Iran, North Korea and Syria) are among the greatest oppressors of what Salehi himself had noted during his opening address as being one of the NAM’s “traditionally” important issues- human rights. While the Syrian regime continues the massacre of her own civilians and the North Korean regime bluntly ignores the hunger of hers, the Iranian regime not only suppresses the fundamental right of freedom of speech, holds political prisoners, derogates females, denies the right for a fair trial, but even, takes part in illegal excecutions.

It is at this point that one must ask- how can the UN general secretary Ban Ki-Moon and other leaders from democracy supporting countries allow themselves to attend a conference led, and attended by, the world’s greatest human rights oppressing countries? How can these leaders, by their presence at the conference, support Iran’s agenda which tends to be wholly undemocratic, dismissive of human rights, war-mongering and definitely at odds with the UN.

Whether they realize it or not, it is finally time to choose sides for or against Iran simply because Iran leaves little leeway for other options. If Iran’s agenda materializes, history books in the future will be filled by the names of the leaders who passively or actively supported Iran by their presence, their votes or their military/financial support.

This is not only the case of evil prevailing because (as Edmund Burke said) “good men do nothing”, but also the case of evil prevailing because of good men and women taking the wrong actions!

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