A professor of law from Brunel University London has been unanimously elected as the United Nation’s new Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran.
Professor Javaid Rehman, an expert in human rights, international law and Muslim constitutionalism, will work on behalf of the UN Human Rights Council to monitor compliance in Iran, and engage with the government on specific legal and policy issues that contribute to abuses in the country.
He takes over the role from Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir, who passed away in February aged 66.
Much like the UK, Iran is a signatory to various UN instruments on human rights – including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which obliges it, amongst other things, to protect its citizens from torture and inhuman treatment, and from arbitrary arrest or detention.
“There are serious concerns over the implementation of these human rights obligations,” said Prof Rehman, a lifelong advocate for the advancement, promotion and protection of human rights, who has also previously advised such luminary institutions as The World Bank and the United States Senate.
“Iran is a party to various international human rights treaties and instruments, and the role of the Special Rapporteur is to ensure full compliance with these international obligations and to work towards the promotion and protection of human rights.”
Initially for three years, the unpaid position will task Prof Rehman with engaging the Iranian government and encouraging their cooperation in preventing human rights violation. Prof Rehman’s appointment marks the first time that a Brunel academic has been named as a UN Special Rapporteur.
Iran opposes the appointment of a UN Special Rapporteur, arguing that it doesn’t deserve special attention. Prof Rehman’s predecessor Asma Jahangir was not allowed to travel to the country, and in 2017 was accused by Iranian state TV of receiving bribes from Saudi Arabia to falsify reports – accusations she strongly denied.
“Iran is currently at a critical juncture as it engages further with the international community and attempts to narrow the gap between its international human rights commitments and existing national protections and practices,” said Professor Rehman, who like his predecessor is originally from Pakistan.
“My biggest challenge will be to ensure that the Iranian state acknowledges the various limitations in its constitutional and legislative framework and takes concrete steps to ensure complete protection of human rights domestically.
“As part of my mandate, my objectives include efforts to seek and ensure Iran’s full and comprehensive compliance with its international human rights obligations. I am hopeful and remain confident that I will be allowed by the Iranian government to conduct country missions during this mandate.”
Prof Arad Reisberg, Head of the Brunel Law School, said: “This position is a very influential one as the Special Rapporteur leads the discussions and developments in the UN system on human rights issues in Iran.
“It’s the first time that Brunel has a UN Special Rapporteur and stands as confirmation of our world-leading position in human rights expertise in the department.”
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Tim Pilgrim, Media Relations
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