Ambassador Kelley Currie
U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
December 20, 2017
Just yesterday morning, this General Assembly body adopted a strong resolution condemning Iran for continuing to commit human rights violations. The General Assembly called on Iran to end the harassment and detention of journalists and to cease its targeting of dual and foreign nationals for arbitrary detention. And, the General Assembly voiced its concern with Iran’s practice of targeting minority religious communities and called on Iran to comply with its obligations under international law.
Yet twenty-four hours later, it is the Islamic Republic of Iran, the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, that is the sponsor of the resolution before us, a resolution titled “A World Against Violence and Violent Extremism.” Iran’s government has engaged in abusive and destructive behavior, often in clear violation of its international obligations that run directly counter to the letter and spirit of this resolution. Instead of promoting peace, Iran’s actions have fueled ethnic and religious conflict, directly supported terrorism, and threatened the peace and security of its neighbors and beyond.
Still, the United States joins consensus on resolution A/72/L.32. We do so because we believe in a cooperative and comprehensive effort to prevent and counter violent extremism. The Iranian regime’s hypocrisy in sponsoring this resolution does not change that fundamental belief.
Indeed, preventing and countering violent extremism are core elements of our comprehensive approach to countering terrorism. It is essential for the United Nations to strengthen its work to address the underlying social, political, and economic trends that terrorists exploit. That is why we welcomed the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism and why we applauded his remarks on terrorism and human rights in London last month. We are also pleased the Secretary-General will soon chair the High-Level Action Group on the Prevention of Violent Extremism.
If only Iran shared the Secretary-General’s commitment.
While Iran urges us here in the General Assembly to unite against violence, its government actively foments violence across the Middle East. In direct violation of Security Council resolution 2231, the Iranian regime smuggles illicit weapons and dispatches military advisors to conflicts from Yemen to Syria to Lebanon.
Iranian support for Hezbollah has expanded Hezbollah’s arsenal to more than 100,000 rockets and missiles, magnitudes greater than their capability at the end of the last war in 2006, directly challenging Lebanese sovereignty, and threatening the safety and security of the State of Israel.
At home, Iran has refused to denounce senior Al Qaeda leaders who take refuge there, and Iran continues to allow Al Qaeda to move significant funds and fighters through its territory.
In addition, while today’s resolution calls on countries to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in their fight against violent extremism, Iran does the opposite. It abuses its own people, suppresses political opponents, persecutes members of religious and ethnic minorities, and imprisons journalists and tourists on phony charges. Iran has the highest rate of executions globally, with over 530 in 2016 alone. This is a serious cause for concern, considering the fact that many executions are carried out without due process and for crimes that do not meet international requirements. For instance, Iran continues to impose the death penalty on persons who committed their alleged crimes as juveniles. And, cruel and unusual punishment abounds. In one case, a prisoner was forced to endure over 459 lashes – punishment Iran thought fit for a journalist who dared to report on city officials.
These are the facts of life for the Iranian people today. Their government’s cynical sponsorship of this resolution does not fool us for one second. So, although the United States joins consensus on this resolution, we have not forgotten the abuse Iranians endure or the terror their neighbors experience because of the Tehran regime. And, we will not turn a blind eye to the violence and violent extremism sponsored by Iran. Because if our experience in this body has taught us one thing, it is this: If we are to promote a world truly against violence and violent extremism, we cannot allow a country’s words to provide cover for its actions.