The UN Social Forum on the Contribution of Science, Technology, and Innovation to the Promotion of Human Rights took place on November 2-3, 2023. Although the topic may appear somewhat dated, upon encountering this information, I felt compelled to address it from the perspective of a human rights consultant within my organization in human rights field.
As I've previously emphasized, it is paramount to comprehend the significant role that science, technology, and innovation play in advancing the enjoyment of human rights worldwide, a viewpoint underscored by the UN itself. But on the other hand what do we see? UN appoints Islamic Republic of Iran to chair Human Rights Council Social Forum in accordance with the organization's regional rotation procedure.
At the time of this appointment, Hillel Neuer of UN Watch reported that Iran has a troubling history of targeting individuals who use social media to criticize not only the regime but also matters concerning religion and other issues affecting the country. It is noteworthy that Iran holds a disturbing record of arresting and detaining approximately 20,000 individuals for supporting or participating in protests that erupted following the death of 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini on September 16, 2022.
There have been numerous allegations of torture and ill-treatment by security forces during the arrest and interrogation process, aimed at extracting forced confessions. Additionally, there are allegations of sexual and gender-based violence committed against women, men, and children, particularly in detention facilities.
To add to this grim scenario, as of March 2, 2023, more than 1,000 students, primarily girls, were poisoned in 91 schools. The state's failure to protect their physical and mental well-being and to prevent further attacks has grievously affected their right to education.
Considering the information from various open sources, it becomes evident that Iran is plagued by systemic human rights violations.
Returning to the Social Forum, it is concerning that Iran proposed a side event on the contribution of science, technology, and innovation in promoting human rights in their situation. This raises legitimate questions about how appropriate is such an endeavor.
On a slightly more optimistic note, a Reuters article dated November 5, 2023, reported that the Thursday session of the forum was poorly attended, with many seats remaining unoccupied as a sign of protest. However, was this enough to address the issue?