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The United Nations Resident Coordinator's Statement

The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Iran, Knut Ostby expresses full support and agreement with the statement issued today by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, regarding the arrests by security police of at least 31 women activists during a peaceful gathering on 4 March 2007. These arrests, and the manner in which they were conducted, give rise to serious concern, particularly since these women were exercising their rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in accordance with the Iranian Constitution, Article 27, as well as in accordance with international conventions signed and ratified by Iran.

It adds to these concerns that the arrests took place only four days ahead of the International Women's Day (8 March), which this year is dedicated to “Ending Impunity for Violence Against Women and Girls”.Significant progress has been made on a number of gender issues in Iran in recent years, including in particular social and economic rights for women, such as literacy, education and health. However, on the side of civil and political rights there are still gaps to be addressed. Some of these include gender inequalities in family and civil law, limited participation of women in some governing bodies, and gender based violence.

The United Nations in Iran is working in support of efforts by the Iranian Government and Civil Society to address these gaps. In accordance with the 4th National Development Plan of Iran, joint efforts by Government and Civil Society will be needed to achieve the national goals in these areas, and opportunities need to be given to Iranian Civil Society organizations to work for these ends. As the High Commissioner further has stated, Iran is encouraged to accede to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

This is in accordance with the recommendation by the Organization of Islamic Conferences (OIC) to all member states in their 10-Year Programme of Action, adopted in Makkah Al Mukarramah in December 2005. To date, CEDAW has been ratified by 185 countries out of 192 UN member states. The UN Country Team in Iran reaffirms its commitment to working together with the Iranian Government and Civil Society towards advancement of women and safeguarding their human rights.

Knut Ostby, UN Resident Coordinator



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