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The Start of the Social Forum in Geneva
Statement by Ambassador Michèle Taylor
November 2, 2023

Statement by Ambassador Michèle Taylor
U.S. Permanent Representative to the Human Rights Council
on the Start of the Social Forum in Geneva

The United States finds it absurd that an official from the Iranian regime will assume the role of Chair for the Human Rights Council’s one-day “Social Forum.” It is unacceptable that any body associated with the promotion and protection of human rights be chaired by a representative from a nation implicated in such persistent and flagrant human rights abuses as Iran. The United States opposed the creation of the Social Forum in 2015, noting at the time that it offered limited utility while generating additional costs. And still, the United States takes a principled stand today.  Notwithstanding our concerns over the utility of the Social Forum in general, we categorically refuse to sit, converse, or engage in any discussion on human rights chaired by Iran.

We, alongside many members of the Human Rights Council, remain profoundly troubled by the Iranian regime’s continued repression of its own population, including through the use of technology: the very topic of today’s Social Forum on human rights.  Within the past week, the world witnessed only the latest example of the violence that women and girls face at the hands of their government when Armita Geravand, a 16-year-old girl, died after reportedly being assaulted on the Tehran metro for not wearing a hijab.  This, along with the haunting memory of Mahsa “Zhina” Amini’s death while in police custody a little over one year ago and many other stories of harassment, abuse, and death at the hands of the regime, paints a grim picture of the state-sponsored violence that is a daily reality for the Iranian people, especially for women and girls.  Tehran’s track record is mired in oppression and the serial abuse of human rights.  It is an affront to the collective conscience of the global community that Iran’s officials occupy any leadership role within the corridors of the UN, especially on matters related to human rights.

While my team and I will not participate in today’s Social Forum, the United States has worked on the Human Rights Council and with a broad base of partners to hold Iran to account where it matters.  Our deep-seated concerns led us to strongly support the creation of the Fact-Finding Mission last fall, an initiative designed to investigate the Iranian government’s violent responses to peaceful protests.  We led the effort last year to have Iran removed from the UN Commission on the Status of Women.  We continue to take steps in coordination with a broad group of partners and allies to confront the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses.

Any discussion led by representatives of a regime that continually, and with impunity, infringes upon its own citizens’ human rights is not just fruitless, but an insult to our shared ideals.  Today’s Social Forum will yield no results for human rights for the people of Iran or anywhere else in the world.