Religion in Iran

   Today, there was a meeting on “Freedom of Religion or Belief,” co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Canada, the Bahá’ís International Community, and the European Centre for Law and Justice.

   The Moderator began the meeting with an introduction of the current situation in Iran. There have been more than 780 documented incidents of shop closings and dismissals of business licenses, and other actions of suppressing economic activities. More than 1450 executions have occurred in Iran since 2014, making Iran the country with the largest individual execution per capita in the world. All of these occurrences are due to the lack of religious tolerance in Iran; the only accepted religion is Shi’ism, and all other religious minority groups, the Bahá’ís, are persecuted. The panelists spoke of their personal stories: their family members and associates who were deprived of their education, unjustly arrested and interrogated, denied work and college acceptances all due to their distinctive religions. Mr. Tavakkoli spoke of the arrests and court cases he saw, as well as the multiple deaths and executions that were carried out in Iran.

   The second panelist, Ms. Aftahi, talked about how the Iranian students are always living with a feeling of uncertainty, not knowing how they will continue their education and get an occupation. Mr. Khanjani told of his family’s oppression economically, how 20 members of his family have been in and out of prison for over 45 years, merely due to their religious beliefs and practices. A video provided Mrs. Abedini’s personal account of the status of Iranian Christians and an orphanage that she created with the participation of the Iranian government, which led to her husband’s detainment and torture in Iran. The meeting closed with the message and promotion for human rights and religious freedom in Iran.

Meeting: Freedom of Religion or Belief

Date/Location: Wednesday, November 4th, 2015; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room 8

Speakers: Individuals of the Baha’i International Community: Mr. Naeim Tavakkoli, Ms. Niknaz Aftahi, Mr. Siavosh Khanjani, Mrs. Nagmeh Abedini (by video), Mr. Danial Shahri (by video), Mr. Kambiz Saghaey

Written By: WIT Representative Jin Yoo

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Post-2015 Agenda

crpdTo fully implement and incorporate the provision of the Convention is indeed a long term process; it requires active cooperation and collaboration with all stakeholders, national and local authorities.  The United Nations called on Member States to review the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and to exchange related experiences and achievements. Representative of Saudi Arabia started off introducing its specialized agency called ‘’Saudi Human Rights Commission” (SHRC), which monitors the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities and raises awareness on these rights. He reaffirmed the importance of strengthening international cooperation in order to optimize the benefits of persons with disabilities, enhances their self-confidence, and achieves their full partnership in their societies without any discrimination.

Similarly, Romania recently launched a new initiative called COMBAT – Counselling, employment Opportunities, changing Mentalities; eliminate Barriers, Accessibility and Training. This allows the persons with disabilities to contribute to the professional development, so as to create and consolidate a strong motivation for training and integration in the labour market. Canada also demonstrated a solid record on disability-inclusive laws, policies and initiatives to reduce barriers for persons with disabilities.

To promote inclusion and respect for diversity for all, Canada suggested a new development framework – prioritize poverty eradication and address the most marginalized first. Canada does invest on persons with disabilities, which mainly focuses on traditional health interventions, as well as inclusive education, community-based rehabilitation and access to employment. Speaking about inclusion, the first ever Iranian female gold medallist in Paralympics, Zahra Nemati was present at the meeting today. Representative of Iran shared Zahra’s story, she competed in Taekwondo before her paralysis. Her story not only inspires women and girls in Iran, but also all around the world. “Hope is the torch of life, never surrender to obstacles”, she said.

Meeting Title: Incorporating the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the post-2015 development agenda
Speakers: Representative of Saudi Arabia; Representative of Romania; Representative of Canada; Representative of Iran; Representative of Qatar; Representative of Chile; Representative of Nicaragua
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 4
Date: 11 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong

OWG for Sustainable Development Goals: Focus Areas 15 & 16

Focus Area 15: Means of implementation/Global partnership for sustainable development 

Focus area 16: Peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law and capable institutions

H.E. the Ambassador of Bolivia on behalf of G77 and China acknowledged that the implementation process of the SDGs would determine the success of the program. The G77 delegates reiterated their support of Bolivia’s statement that the MDGs were weakened by the ill-defined implementation programs, particularly for the 8th MDG, and therefore action-orientated targets are key to maximising outcomes.

Delegates commonly asked that focus area 15 address; the removal of tariff boundaries, debt relief, market and trade access, prevention of elicit arms trade and human trafficking. H.E. the Ambassador of Denmark, Ambassador of Switzerland and representatives on behalf of Norway, Germany, France, and Australia, affirmed the need to engage with civil society, media and private sectors alongside multiple levels of governance for successful implementation worldwide.

State ambassadors and those representing the G77, Caricom, and the Non-aligned Movement have emphasised the role of peace as indispensable to the achievement of sustainable development for all states. In particular, H.E. the Ambassador of Croatia, focused on Croatia’s recent experience of war and corrupt governance, which has cemented their firm believe that factors of Sustainable Development are lead by safety, freedom of speech, inclusiveness, and institutions that are both accountable and capable.

Representative of Zimbabwe who spoke on behalf of the Southern African Counties expressed that the primary focus should instead be on the eradication of poverty, which would, in turn, provide peace to states. Representatives of Denmark, Egypt, Cuba and Brazil shared their concerns for inclusive societies and rule of law as a whole focus area and consider instead mainstreaming these targets throughout the paper amongst other focus areas.

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Meeting Title: Eleventh session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (9th meeting: Focus Areas 15 and 16)

Key Speakers:Co-Chair H.E. Ambassador of Hungary Csaba Kőrösi, Co-Chair H.E. Ambassador of Kenya Macharia Kamau and delegates on behalf of: Bolivia, China, Barbados, Iran, Papua New Guinea, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Benin, Lesotho, Colombia, Guatemala, Nauru, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Netherlands, UK, Australia, United States, Canada, Romania, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Sweden, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Switzerland, Germany, France, Singapore, Palau, Liechtenstein, Nigeria, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Latvia, Austria, Portugal, Cuba, Morocco, Egypt, Paraguay, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, India and Vanuatu

Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York

Date: May 9th 2014

Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark