Security Council Briefing: The Situation in the Middle East
Statement by Karel J.G. van Oosterom ,
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations
New York, 5 January 2018
Thank you Mr. President,
Let me first congratulate you for assuming your role as President of the Council.
This is the first time the Kingdom of the Netherlands takes the floor as a member of the Security Council for the year 2018. Let me therefore start by thanking my colleague, Sebastiano Cardi, his Deputy Permanent Representative Inigo Lambertini and his team for the excellent work done in 2017 by Italy, in the context of the split term 2017-2018 on this Council.
I would also like to thank Assistant Secretary-General Zerihoun for his briefing on the most recent developments in Iran. Given the value we attach to dialogue, we welcome the presence of Iran in the session today.
In my intervention today I will address three issues. The current situation in Iran, Human Rights and Prevention. Let me start with my first point, the current situation in Iran.
Over the past week anti-government protests in Iran that originated in Mashhad, have spread to dozens of Iranian cities and rural areas. These were legitimate and peaceful protests by the Iranian people against the social and economic conditions they face in their daily lives.
We have witnessed a disturbing level of violence and a death toll that has risen to more than 20, with many more wounded and arrested. The situation in Iran seems to be calming down. We hope the situation in Iran further stabilises. Especially when it comes to the use of violence. And we therefore call on all sides to refrain from any more violence. We furthermore call upon the Iranian government to launch a comprehensive accountability process.
This should address all cases of serious human rights violations, including those involving the Iranian judiciary and security agencies.
An end to impunity for such violations is paramount.
This brings me to my second point: respect for human rights. The right to peaceful demonstration and the right to freedom of expression and assembly are fundamental rights. They apply to all persons, in all countries, and Iran is no exception. This was also stressed by the EU and its Member States in our recent statement of January 2nd.
In this light, we appreciate the public statements of the Iranian president regarding the legitimacy of peaceful protest in the country. And we take note of the increased willingness for engagement by the Iranian authorities on issues related to human rights.
However, we have seen that the Islamic Republic of Iran imposed both offline and online restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, opinion, association and peaceful assembly. The Kingdom of the Netherlands urges the Islamic Republic of Iran to end these restrictions, both offline and online.
This brings me to my third point, prevention. Without human rights and fundamental freedoms, there can be no human dignity. Without human dignity, there can be no lasting stability or security.
Hence, from the perspective of conflict prevention, this Council has a responsibility to act early and decisively when fundamental freedoms are under threat.
Every person has the right to individual freedoms such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
They have electoral rights, and a right to a fair trial. These are not just words. They are obligations under international law.
And all governments have a responsibility to honour those obligations.
In conclusion, the Kingdom of the Netherlands reiterates its concern about the recent developments in Iran. And we hope that today’s session can work as a preventative measure to avoid further escalation of violence.
We call upon the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to:
- Exercise restraint when reacting to people exercising their human rights,
- Lift restrictions on fundamental freedoms and,
- Uphold the rule of law by holding perpetrators of serious human rights violations accountable.
Dialogue is crucial in this context. Dialogue within Iran to address existing grievances. But also dialogue between Iran and the broader international community.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is committed to playing its role in such a dialogue, especially during our year on this Council.
Thank you, Mr. President.