Ebrahim Raisi is a well-known Iranian cleric who is close to Iran’s Supreme Leader. He was the candidate endorsed by Ayatollah Khamenei during Iran’s presidential elections in June of this year. The regime was so afraid that Raisi would not win, that they manipulated the votes and forced the final result in his favour. The Iranian people see him as an uncharismatic and ruthless man, who has masterminded numerous executions of prisoners during his tenure as Prosecutor General of Fars Province from 1999 to 2003. He can also be considered responsible for the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in universities which left thousands of them dead. Ebrahim Raisi is not only a controversial figure within Iran but worldwide as well. This explains why human rights organizations have asked the UN secretary-general not to allow him to give a speech at the UN in September 2022 – when he will be running for re-election as President of Iran with no real opposition again.
Ebrahim Raisi is a controversial figure not only in Iran but in the international arena as well. Some Iranians hold him responsible for the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in universities when thousands of them were killed. Moreover, he can be viewed as an uncharismatic and ruthless man who has been accused of masterminding numerous executions of prisoners during his tenure as Prosecutor General of Fars Province from 1999 to 2003. Raisi is also a controversial figure in the West: in 2011, a New York court issued a warrant of arrest against him for his role in the 1994 “torture-for-ransom” scandal. But Western courts have yet to issue an Interpol Red Notice (the mechanism by which Interpol would issue a formal notice that he is wanted), and Raisi has never appeared in a Western court to respond to the charges. Instead, he has kept a low profile in Iran.
The UN should not host Raisi because he is a controversial figure who was endorsed by the supreme leader of a state that violates human rights. Moreover, since he is such a controversial figure, hosting him would only serve as a detriment to the image of the UN. Raisi has been endorsed by the supreme leader of an authoritarian state that has been accused of violating human rights. This state has tried to silence dissent and often arrests or sentences those that speak out to death. Raisi, who is close to the supreme leader of Iran, should not be given a platform at the UN that could be used to silence dissent in his home country. In addition to this, Raisi would not be representing the Iranian people, but rather himself.
This would be contrary to the mission of the UN, which is to promote peace and international cooperation through “broad, balanced and unbiased understanding of all matters of international concern.” Whilst the UN has hosted many dictators, human rights violators, and enabled aggressors and state terrorists, allowing Raisi to speak would undermine the UN’s commitments to “maintain international peace and security”.
The Iranian regime has widely been criticized as one of the biggest human rights violators and the most active state sponsor of terrorism at the same time. It’s also not surprising that Iranian state officials systematically deny the Holocaust. But don’t make a mistake. They are not judging the past, they are simply opting to legitimize their routine today and what will come in the future.
The first step toward justice would be to raise awareness of Raisi’s crimes. Raising awareness of his crimes would help the Iranian people and international community to understand the true nature of Raisi and would hopefully catalyze change in Iran. Raising awareness of his crimes would also be useful in terms of the future judicial process against him. Whilst this would require the support of the UN, the organization has a large international audience. It would be particularly useful in terms of increasing the pressure on Iran, given that the UN has called on Iran to “abide by its obligations under international human rights law, including conventions it has ratified.”
The UN should not host Raisi for his endless human rights violations as hosting him would only serve as a further detriment to the image of the UN. Hosting Raisi would not only stoop a new low for the United Nations it would also mark a worse place for humanity. As autocrats are increasingly posing a greater danger to the free world by building dangerous alliances and taking hostage both human lives and economies, the world must show more solidarity in rejecting and isolating bad actors. This has to start at the UN.
Image Credit: Iranian President