NZ suspends human rights dialogue with Iran

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has announced Aotearoa New Zealand is suspending its bilateral Human Rights Dialogue with Iran.

“This decision sends a strong signal that bilateral approaches on human rights are no longer tenable with Iran, when they are denying basic human rights and violently suppressing protests of those who stand up to them,”  Nanaia Mahuta said.

“New Zealand and Iran established the Human Rights Dialogue in 2018 with the hope of advancing human rights issues and concerns. The first session was held in 2021 and the next one was due to take place later this year.

“However recent events continue to show Iran’s position on human rights is deteriorating, not improving.

“Aotearoa New Zealand continues to be appalled by the use of force by Iranian authorities in response to peaceful demonstrations following the death of Mahsa Amini last month.

“Images of shots being fired into the crowd at Mahsa Amini’s 40th day mourning ceremony have shocked New Zealanders. The Shah Cheragh holy shrine in Shiraz was subject to a terrorist attack claiming over a dozen lives and injuring many more.  We condemn this attack and offer our condolences to the victims.

“Violence against women, girls or any other members of Iranian society to prevent their exercise of universal human rights is unacceptable and must end. This is clearly a difficult time for the people of Iran.

“We have added our name to a joint statement by the women foreign ministers of twelve nations to condemn the violent actions that led to the death of Mahsa Amini and to reiterate calls, such as those by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, for a prompt, impartial and independent investigation into the use of force by authorities and repression of demonstrations.

“Separately, the Prime Minister has also signed an open letter coordinated by a global collective of women including Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Christine Lagarde and Malala Yousafzai calling on UN Member States to remove Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

“New Zealand has repeatedly called on Iran to show restraint and to guarantee and protect the rights of its people. We have in the past sought to raise our concerns over human rights in Iran bilaterally.  But for this to be effective and credible it must be accompanied by a willingness to listen and to change, said Nanaia Mahuta.

Aotearoa New Zealand has a track record of holding Iran to account in the UN Human Rights Council, where we voice our concern every year through strong national statements, alongside support for UN Third Committee resolutions on the Human Rights situation there.