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Item 8 General Debate – Joint Statement on Iran
October 4, 2023

The United States Joined the Following Joint Statement at the 54th Session of the Human Rights Council

Item 8 General Debate – Joint Statement on Iran

Joint Statement Delivered by Delivered by Ambassador Leslie E. Norton, Permanent Mission of Canada

I deliver this statement on behalf of a group of states.

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted 30 years ago, recalls that “the human rights of women and [girls] are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights” and “urges the eradication of all forms of discrimination against women, both hidden and overt”[1].

Against this backdrop, we join our voices to those of the High Commissioner[2], Special Procedures[3] and the Fact-Finding Mission on Iran[4] to express serious concern at the recent adoption of the Chastity and Hijab bill by the Iranian Parliament.

The bill considerably aggravates punishments for women and girls who do not obey Iran’s draconian compulsory dress code. It also seeks to force non-complying women into an unprecedented social and economic siege, by imposing travel bans, denial of education, of access to health facilities and other public services, and by making it compulsory for private actors, including business owners, to refuse services.

We are also deeply troubled by reports of the use of new artificial intelligence and digital facial recognition technology to surveil, arrest and punish women[5].

These recent developments only aggravate an already dire situation for women and girls, marked by widespread and systematic discrimination[GP1] in law and practice, in many aspects of their public and private life.

Women and girls of Iran should not be treated as second class citizens and must enjoy the full array of their human rights, free from discrimination, surveillance and fear of retribution.

A year after the start of the nationwide movement that rallied behind the slogan “Women, Life, Freedom”, we urge Iranian authorities to heed to the legitimate claims of protesters, and to abide by its obligations under international law, including in matters of women’s rights and gender equality.

[1] Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted on 25 June 1993, Preambular paragraph 6 and Para.39, accessible at: https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/vienna-declaration-and-programme-action

[2] OHCHR Press Briefing Note, 22 September 2023, accessible at: https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-briefing-notes/2023/09/iran-concerns-over-chastity-and-hijab-bill

[3] SR on human rights in Iran, SR on freedom of opinion and expression, SR in the field of cultural rights, Working Group on Discrimination against Women, Press Release, ‘Iran’s proposed hijab law could amount to “gender apartheid”: UN experts’, 1 Sept 2023, accessible at: https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/09/irans-proposed-hijab-law-could-amount-gender-apartheid-un-experts

[4] UN Independent International Fact Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran, Press Release ‘Iran: On one-year anniversary of Jina Mahsa Amini’s death in custody, heightened repression of women and girls and reprisals against protesters and victims’ families is deeply troubling, UN Fact-Finding Mission says’, 14 September 2023, accessible at: https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/09/iran-one-year-anniversary-jina-mahsa-aminis-death-custody-heightened

[5] See ARTICLE 19, https://www.article19.org/resources/iran-tech-enabled-hijab-and-chastity-law-will-further-punish-women/; See also UN FFMI press release, cf. note 4.

[GP1]Agreed language from Resolution A/HRC/RES/52/27 (Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran), OP2