An official website of the United States government

Ambassador Taylor on the Appointment of the Iranian Ambassador as Chair of the Social Forum
May 23, 2023

Statement by U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council Michèle Taylor on the Appointment of the Iranian Ambassador as the Chair of the Social Forum 

The United States is appalled that the Iranian Ambassador in Geneva may serve as the Chair-Rapporteur of the Social Forum, an annual meeting in Geneva established by a UN Human Rights Council resolution, to be held in November. 

While we recognize the principle of regional rotation in such roles, such a practice should not take precedence over promoting respect for human rights and accountability. The appointment of a representative to a country with such a deplorable human rights record severely undermines the credibility and purpose of both the UN Human Rights Council and the Social Forum. The recent report by UN Special Rapporteur, Javaid Rehman, exposes a stark reality of widespread human rights abuses and violations in Iran, including state-endorsed violence against women and girls, summary executions of peaceful protestors, and stifling of freedom of expression, suggesting possible crimes against humanity. 

The United States has long held the view that the annual Social Forum, convened on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council, has limited utility and is an unnecessary drain on resources.  The appointment of an Iranian representative to chair the Forum serves only to underscore this assessment. This year’s purported focus on the role of science, technology, and innovation in promoting post-pandemic human rights rings hollow and deeply troubling in light of this appointment.  It is abhorrent that Iran, notorious for exploiting these very tools to suppress human rights and curb freedom of expression, would serve at the helm of this or any human rights-related event.

We call upon all UN Human Rights Council member and observer states to prioritize the credibility and integrity of the Council by making decisions that truly embody the principles and values this body stands for.  This appointment further highlights the pressing need for reform within the UN’s human rights system, ensuring that countries that perpetrate serious human rights violations and abuses do not hold positions of leadership that contradict the organization’s core mission and values.

Our commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights across the globe remains unyielding.  This development reinforces the importance of these fundamental values and provides an impetus to voice our strong opposition to any actions that compromise them.  The United States will continue to utilize our position on the Council to expose such disregard for the fundamental values and principles of the UN system, to advocate for more credible appointments, and to work towards a more accountable, transparent, and effective UN Human Rights Council.