Saturday, December 27, 2014
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Introduction to this story by the UN Resident Coordinator in Iran
The United Nations, in its mandate to promote peace, has ardently opposed the use of chemical weapons.
In September 1982, the UN General Assembly accepted the annual report of the Conference on Disarmament, which contained what later became the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
The CWC – which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and their precursors – came into force in 1997 and is administered by the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.
The CWC bears great significance for Iran, whose people were subjected to these heinous weapons during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988).
Today, the victims of the sulphur mustard gas attacks continue to suffer from the consequences.
The UN office in Iran and UNIC are proud of their friendship with the Tehran Peace Museum, where many of these victims share their stories and experiences.
Sadly, one of our friends died recently. Here is his story.
Ahmad Zangiabadi died two weeks ago. The day was Tuesday, the 18th of November 2014. He was 49 years old. The cause of his death was respiratory collapse.
Ahmad was born in Kerman on the 9th of April 1965, into an ordinary Iranian family. But when the Iran-Iraq war started in 1980 over a territorial dispute, he followed the well-trodden path chosen by patriotic young men from across the ages. He volunteered to join the army and went off to defend Iran.
Ahmad as a young volunteer soldier in 1982. (Photo courtesy of Tehran Peace Museum)
Ahmad spent his military career on the southern front defending Iran’s control of the Arvand River – the Shatt al-Arab – where he was a member of the volunteer army’s logistics unit.
“In 1984,” said Ahmad in an interview before his death, “Iraq was dropping chemical bombs on our troops. We didn’t even know what chemical bombs were.”
On the 12th of April 1985, Ahmad was positioned with his unit in the Tala’ie region of the Majnoon Island when Iraq dropped a sulphur mustard gas bomb on his position. He was then only 19 years old.
When people are exposed to sulphur mustard gas, in more than 95 per cent of cases they don’t die. Most associated deaths occur either as a result of the explosive blast itself or when the patients – in a condition of vulnerability and exposed to liquid chemicals – are being transported to medical facilities. The real trauma and tragedy come afterwards. The symptoms of mustard gas are slow-onset. Many veterans have told of feeling quite well for some time even after the explosion. Ahmad was no different, and it was not until several hours after the attack that he began to feel unwell.
“It was about 10pm in the evening,” Ahmad recalled, “when I first realized that something was wrong. I guessed that I had been exposed to chemicals. I asked someone to replace me at the front so that I could go to the medical centre.”
Ahmad’s condition rapidly worsened. His eyes were severely burned and he started vomiting violently. His entire body began to break out in burns and blisters.
“I was taken to Tehran to a hospital,” said Ahmad, “and I lay unconscious for about 40 days.”
Ahmad slowly began to understand that his lungs had been damaged permanently and for the next 30 years his life would be dependent on medication, hospitalization and a series of oxygen machines. After the war, Ahmad got married. In time, Ahmad’s wife, Marzieh, would be his loyal and dedicated nurse, administering his medication, helping him with his oxygen machines and making life as comfortable as possible for him.
After the war, Ahmad tried to further his education and enrolled at a local university to study English literature. However, the sulphur mustard had burned his cornea and his eyesight had rapidly deteriorated. His lung condition worsened and after falling into a coma and being hospitalized, he was forced to give up any hope of continuing his studies.
As one of over 100,000 survivors of chemical warfare in Iran from the war with Iraq, Ahmad sought for himself a role in helping other survivors. He joined a non-governmental organization, the Society for Chemical Weapons Victims Support (SCWVS) later becoming a board member.
In 2007, Ahmad began a career as a volunteer guide at The Tehran Peace Museum. As an eyewitness and survivor, Ahmad escorted visitors around the museum and gave first hand accounts of the terrible consequences of chemical weapons. He served as living testimony to the open wounds – both literal and metaphorical – still troubling war veterans, civilians and many people who continue to be affected by secondary contamination from sulphur mustard.
Ahmad Zangiabadi meets UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon at the OPCW Conference in The Hague, April 2013 (Photo courtesy of Tehran Peace Museum)
A committed campaigner for peace, Ahmad travelled with delegates from the Tehran Peace Museum to The Hague in April 2013. The group attended the Third Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention at the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). While moving around with his portable oxygen machine, Ahmad was honoured to meet the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, and the OPCW’s Director General, Mr. Ahmed Üzümcü and asked them to double their efforts to make a world free of chemical weapons.
With each laboured breath, Ahmad described his role at the Tehran Peace Museum and shared the experiences of survivors like him. Sadly, within the last year of his life, Ahmad’s respiratory condition worsened.
“I am a candidate for a lung transplant,” he said, “my lungs were burnt so badly that they can’t provide my body with the oxygen it needs.”
Ahmad did not live long enough to receive the lung transplant. His dream of taking deep breaths would not come true.
Ahmad Zangiabadi is survived by his widow, Marzieh, and his only son, Hesam.
But through his work and the lives he touched, Ahmad’s story will live on and his tireless campaigning to see a world free of chemical weapons will be remembered.
With the courtesy of UN Reisdent Coordinator.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Monday, October 20, 2014
Iran has many touristc attractions, 7000 years of history and art manifested in cities throughout the country, exceptional biodiversity including mountains, forests deserts, wetlands ,sea and rangeland are all unique attractions of Iran. In addition, religious pilgrimages and health tourism are also areas where attractions exist.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Friday, September 26, 2014
Energy efficiency in Iran is also low and this has led to air pollution as well as economic loss.
However, Iran has been an active partner of the decades long international processes to combat climate change. I took part not only in the Kyoto Protocol deliberations in 1997 but also in most related events during my first term as the Vice President of Iran( Government of President Khatami). Our role as head of the Group of 77 during those years, in bringing about a consensus with the EU was applauded by the international community as a victory for multilateralism in 2002.
Now, again we are playing our proactive role in the ongoing negotiations for the "new deal", which I believe must be fair and just, if it is to be implemented and followed by all nations. Iran has now undertaken serious measures for energy efficiency and thus mitigation of greenhouse gases. We are also taking action on different levels to build a resilient economy and to protect our nature in face of these challenges.
Monday, September 1, 2014
Day and night, our planet and its beautiful natural resources are guarded by individuals who give new meaning to the words sacrifice, courage and compassion. Game Guards are the dedicated watchers of the environment and the primary guardians of our Iranian biodiversity.
To mark the occasion of National Asiatic Cheetah Day the Department of Environment and the UNDP jointly organized a ceremony to celebrate outstanding Iranian Game Guards and activists from the Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah Project. The objective was to recognize the remarkable contribution of these individuals in safeguarding our environment.
In Tehran government officials along with representatives from the diplomatic community, NGOs, Academia, members of the private sector, media and UN representatives came together to applaud the dedication of these men and women whose mission in life is defined by their sense of duty to our shared global heritage – the environment.
He then highlighted the remarkable contribution of the Game Guards by stating: “Many – like Iran’s Game Guards – our Mohit Bans – do it through their actions. Actions which often place these doer-of-deeds in great personal peril. Peril of being shot at by poachers. This is no idle threat. Some Game Guards have been shot at – and wounded – in the line of duty […] Ladies and Gentlemen, Iran’s Game Guards are heroes. They are local heroes. And they are global heroes. Through their actions which directly save our biodiversity, these heroes are paving the way for a future which is sustainable. Through their actions we have come to recognize that all species deserve to co-exist and share our beautiful, endangered, planet.”
Also speaking at the event was Vice-President and Head of Department of Environment, H.E. Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar. “Environmental issues and the protection of species at a local level is considered as a global issue today. That is an important achievement for humanity – the fact that we realize today that our actions at a local level have global implications. Therefore, our responsibilities extend beyond our geographical boarders. We have global responsibilities.”
She then emphasized on the protection of the Asiatic Cheetah as also being a global issue. She added: “To reverse the destiny of the Asiatic Cheetah, we need a careful and efficient plan which includes the involvement of the local communities as well as the efforts of the highest national and international level officials and organizations.”
“Today, I stand next to you, delighted and honoured to represent and acknowledge the efforts of our Game Guards from all parts of Iran. We owe a great share of our success in preserving our environment to the dedication of Game Guards who serve in the remote areas. They believe that protecting the environment and its species guarantees nature sustainability for the future and that is why they have devoted their life to this high-risk path. It is the duty of each and every citizen to join the Game Guards and others who follow their path to conserve the environment and its biodiversity for today and the future.”
She was then joined by Mr. Lewis on stage to present awards to the Game Guards, NGOs, Academia and sponsors of the ceremony – Eghtesad Novin Bank, Bidar Trading Company and Vijeh School of Visual Communication.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Considering news of the grave enivronmental cirumstances in Gaza, I called upon the UN system to take serious action to address the matter .The following is the text of my letter to the UNSG.
HE Mr.Ban Ki Moon
Secretary General United Nations
HE Achim Steiner UNEP Executive Director. ( cc)
Ministers of Environment (cc)
The ongoing violence and humanitarian crisis and genocide against the people of Gaza has created very grave circumstances for the Palestinian people. Recalling the mandate of the UN to safeguard peace and security for all humanity and the continued blockade and sanctions against the Gaza strip which has made all humanitarian assistance possible only through certain UN and similar bodies it is necessary to stress that the responsibility of the United Nations in face of this tragedy is immense.
Now as we enter the fifth week of the calamity, in addition to the humanitarian tragedy, we are obtaining news of an imminent environmental catastrophe. The breakdown of basic sanitary services in Gaza, the unavailability of potable water and problems in water sanitization systems, the breakdown of the sewage and purification plants and the scattering and piling of urban waste have all amounted to an environmental crisis in Gaza. It is deemed necessary that UNEP calls for urgent action of UN bodies and member states to address the state of environmental emergency in Gaza. The lifting of the inhumane blockade is evidently an imperative to prevent further humanitarian tragedy.
In addition to the readiness of my Government to assist in this regard, I would like to propose the urgent convening of a session the region to address and take urgent measures to address this matter. Tehran is prepared to host and provide support in this regard.
We also propose that UNEP convene a adhoc session on the sidelines of the Climate session to address theissue of emergency environmental relief for Gaza.
Excellency please accept my highest considerations .
Vice President , Head Department of Environment
Islamic Republic of Iran
UNEP Champion of the Earth
Friday, August 1, 2014
Dr. Mosaffa has done an excellent article on the role of multilateral mechanisms in dealing with crises such as that in the Middle East today. I would like to share her academic view points here. Hope you enjoy.
Gaza Crisis Mirrors Inefficiency of International Law
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Professor of Tehran University & UN Expert
International human rights movement came into being with the formulation
of the Charter of the United Nations and through frequent references to
the horrendous nature of crimes committed against ordinary people during
the World War II. By and by, this movement made efforts to bolster its
legitimacy by issuing statements and approving binding documents in order
to formulate norms, pass regulations, and establish new organs and
institutions both inside and outside the United Nations. However, in
addition to concerns and questions that have consistently existed about
political, social, cultural and economic capabilities of this huge body of
laws, whose activities are aimed at protecting human beings, it is
currently facing major challenges for the realization of its goals,
especially under emergency circumstances and conditions of hostile
Despite all efforts that have been made so far, global mechanisms have not
been actually able to deal effectively with blatant cases in which human
rights and humanitarian law, which are totally intermingled in view of the
realities of the contemporary world, have been violated. Apart from all
clear cases that have taken place during the past decades, a striking
instance of the violation of human rights is the current situation and
acute conditions of people in the Gaza Strip, which are, of course, not
limited to the ongoing crisis. Recent remarks by Navi Pillay, the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, addressed to a Special Session
of the UN Human Rights Council on July 23, 2014, was good evidence to
inability of international mechanisms in dealing with such crises. Pillay
clearly noted that she and her predecessors only relied on facts, laws,
and common sense judgments, adding that they had done this so far and will
continue to do the same in the future, though they have frequently come
under fire for such efforts. The High Commissioner also noted that Gazan
children and women accounted for the main part of the Israeli attack’s
victims, adding that “All the dead and maimed civilians should weigh
heavily on all consciences, as all efforts to protect them had been abject
failures.” She also urged “more powerful entities, such as the Security
Council, and individual States with serious leverage over the parties to
this dreadful and interminable conflict,” to “do far more than they had
done so far to bring the conflict to an end once and for all.”
The remarks by Navi Pillay, as the highest ranking US human rights
official, in addition to what UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian
Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said in the same
meeting when explaining the human catastrophe and the rising civilian
casualties in the ongoing Gaza crisis, will be hard to tolerate for any
conscientious person. Over 1000 Palestinians, including more than 200
children and many women have been so far killed in Gaza and the death toll
keeps rising with every hour passing.
Hundreds of Palestinians homes have been destroyed by the invading Israeli
military and more than 140,000 Palestinians have been seeking refuge in
other places. Schools, hospitals, and various installations, including
facilities and buildings run by the United Nations have been razed to the
ground. On average, one Palestinian child loses his/her life every hour.
Disabled women are torn to pieces on their wheelchairs. Killer Israeli
drones continue to bomb various parts of the General Assembly. All these
catastrophic events are taking place on top of a crippling siege on the
coastal enclave, which has already blocked Gaza people’s access to such
essential and primary needs as potable water, foodstuff, fuel, electricity
and first aid. As admitted by Pillay, Israel has even ignored and violated
international obligations and responsibilities of an occupying force. Long
occupation of Palestinian lands, which has brought them nothing but
insecurity, and ignoring the right of the Palestinian people to survive
and determine their own destiny, among other rights, are major breaches of
international obligations by Israel.
Such remarks by international authorities all attest to blatant violations
of human rights and the norms of international humanitarian law,
especially with regard to such principles as proportion between a threat
and the response given to it, the need to differentiate between the
military and civilian population, and the need to exercise cautious in
case of any military undertaking. In fact, the ongoing crisis in Gaza is a
clear manifestation of the inefficiency of international law, especially
international humanitarian law. Of course, this may be a very pessimistic
conclusion. A large part of the pressure that has been currently put on
Israel is a result of the crimes perpetrated by the Tel Aviv regime and
blatant violation of customary rules of international law. This is why
even the staunchest supporters of Israel have been forced to avoid
defending Israel’s onslaught on the Gaza Strip and highlight Tel Aviv’s
violations of primary principles of international law and human rights.
After the establishment of Israel and political crises that followed it,
the UN has frequently repeated the measures that it usually takes in such
cases: holding international conferences and meetings, dispatching
peacekeeping forces, establishing UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), sending special envoys, organizing
fact-finding groups, choosing special rapporteurs, adopting resolutions
and so forth. However, all these measures lack the necessary political
will and guarantees that are embedded in the Security Council’s decisions
and this is why Pillay has urged the member states of the Security Council
to “do far more than they had done so far to bring the conflict to an end
once and for all.”
Perhaps, she thinks that the unprecedented candor in her latest remarks,
now that her tenure is coming to an end, may reduce the heavy burden that
weighs on her conscience and of which she has talked at the end of her
speech. The former UN human rights commissioner, Mary Robinson, lost her
second term in office after she prepared a report on Israel’s crimes at
Jenin refugee camp, which evoked harsh opposition of the United States.
Unlike her, Mrs. Pillay has plucked up her courage in the later months of
her second term, which is her last term in office, and has now decided to
deal with the situation in Palestine on the basis of her professional
requirements in accordance with Paragraph (a), Article 2 of the UN General
Assembly Resolution 141 (adopted on December 20, 1993). According to that
article, “…the High Commissioner for Human Rights shall be a person of
high moral standing and personal integrity and shall possess expertise,
including in the field of human rights, and the general knowledge and
understanding of diverse cultures necessary for impartial, objective,
non-selective and effective performance of the duties of the High
Now, we must wait and see how her Jordanian successor, who should be
practically familiar with the problems and suffering of Palestinians,
would remain committed to the aforesaid professional requirements and
human obligations. The consequence of the UN decision to establish Israel
is war crimes that have been committed frequently by this regime. Although
it is the bodies of Palestinian people that are washed in their blood,
those crimes have also greatly weighed down on the conscience and human
spirit of the world and have dealt drastic blows to international human
rights movement, which had promised to protect human dignity of all
Perhaps, UN officials believe that expression of sympathy and mere
condemnation will make up for the aforesaid blows to human rights
movement. However, the undeniable reality of the modern world beyond all
expressions of sympathy is that the UN has failed in making sure about
fulfilling what has been said in the Preamble to the Charter of the United
Nations about the world body’s obligation “to save succeeding generations
from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold
sorrow to mankind.” If a six-year Gazan child has not already died of
hunger, or if they have not already experienced injury and disability, and
have not faced dire problems with regard to essential needs of their life,
they have, at least, seen three bouts of war and bloodshed in the besieged
territory and have spent all their life under siege. In the meantime, the
entire world has been, of course, expressing its sympathy with them!!!
Monday, July 14, 2014
Friday, July 4, 2014
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
I twitted on my Twitter this morning:Imam Khomeini's efforts to establish new model of governance/religious democracy were countered by reactionaries who see no role for people. This phrase marks the major challenges we face today in following the legacy of the Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. From the very early days of the national awakening and uprising against the tyranny of the Shah, Imam Khomeini was approached by radical elemants to take up arms and to invite the people to engage in armed struggle against the monarchial regime. Imam refrained and emphasized instead on the cultural nature of the revolution and invited people to resist through peaceful protests and strikes. This non violent approach was they key to the massive nationwide support for Imam.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
I spoke about the intrinsic value of the biological diversity that the earth harbors and how this diversity is diminishing. I also noted how important the services this diversity provides and as an example I mentioned the role of bees in pollination of over 60% of our agricultural products. Bee population and species worldwide have been seriously endangered by pesticides use and their products contaminated by toxic chemicals.