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The Role of the International Community

United Nations

The U.N. Commission on Human Rights, while welcoming a number of positive developments such as the February elections, "expressed concern" about Iran's human rights record in a resolution in April. The resolution called on the government to resume cooperation with the U.N. special representative on Iran, Maurice Copithorne of Canada, and it extended his mandate. The resolution also expressed concern over the Jews' trial, discrimination against the situation of religious minorities, and the prevalence of the death penalty. In his report to the General Assembly in October, Copithorne was more critical, singling out the "accelerating attack on the press" as the most dramatic development, but also noting the lack of progress in judicial reform and the execution of 130 people between January and July.

European Union

The prospect of lucrative Iranian trade and investment contracts for European corporations was a high priority for E.U. leaders, but the Shiraz trial of Iranian Jews strained the improving relations between E.U. members states and Iran. In France and other European countries, demonstrations called for the severing of diplomatic relations with Iran if the defendants were convicted, and in April the European Parliament passed a resolution urging the Iranian authorities to guarantee a fair trial, allow access to international observers, and introduce a moratorium on the death penalty. Many E.U. leaders, while condemning continued violations of human rights, publicly expressed support for the reformist policies of President Khatami, and he made state visits to France and Germany during the year.

United States

There was a continued slow warming of relations between the United States and Iran. The U.S. commented favorably on the February elections, but continued to express concern over Iran's alleged support for international terrorism and efforts to develop nuclear weapons. President Clinton and other U.S. leaders publicly criticized the Shiraz trial. Restrictions were eased on the import to the U.S. of certain goods, but restrictions on U.S. corporations investing in Iran remained in place, to the increasing displeasure of corporations who saw contracts being awarded to their European competitors.

A delegation of Iranian parliamentarians led by Speaker Karrubi attended an Inter-Parliamentary Union conference in New York in August, and met several members of the U.S. Congress at a reception. During President Khatami's visit to New York for the U.N. Millennium Summit, President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright conspicuously attended his speeches. The State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1999, issued before the post-election crack-down on the reformist movement, gave some credit for improvements in the freedom of expression field, while remaining critical of a wide range of violations. The Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, issued by the State Department in early September identified Iran as "a country of concern," because of its persecution of religious minorities.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

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