Human Rights in Iran: The Abuse of Cultural Relativism

By Samii, A. William | The Middle East Journal, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

Human Rights in Iran: The Abuse of Cultural Relativism


Samii, A. William, The Middle East Journal


Human Rights in Iran: The Abuse of Cultural Relativism, by Reza Afshari. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001. xxi + 302 pages. Notes to p. 343. Sel. bibl. to p. 352. Index to p. 359. Acknowledgments. $49.95.

Reviewed by A. William Samii

In November 2001, the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution calling on the Iranian government to abide by its international human rights obligations.' Tehran's Foreign Ministry spokesman dismissed the committee's resolution, saying it contained "repetitive, baseless, and false allegations."2

The spokesman added: "Certain countries are making every endeavor to impose a single culture hegemony and a biased interpretation of human rights which is unacceptable and contrary to international norms." Two months earlier, the UN's Special Representative on Iran described "a significant degree of paralysis in the implementing of critically needed human rights improvements."3 In rejecting a similar report six months earlier, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said it was part of an attempt to impose a "mono-cultural system.114

Reza Afshari's Human Rights in Iran: The Abuse of Cultural Relativism points out that such statements by Tehran are hardly a recent development. By 1980, just one year after the Islamic Revolution, international human rights organizations were expressing concern about Iran, and Iranian diplomats were issuing flat denials (p. 147). In 1984 Iran became one of the few countries to be investigated by a UN country rapporteur - the Special Representative - and since 1996 he has not been allowed to visit the country.

Chapter 17 of Human Rights in Iran examines the UN's "Mixed Results." At the same time that Tehran denies access to the UN Special Representative, it permits other UN officials to visit the country. Iranian diplomats reject UN human rights reports about Iran, but cite adverse reports about human rights in the United States. Iranian diplomats, furthermore, strike deals with their foreign counterparts to gain votes in UN meetings. Many observers would see this as manipulation of the system. But the fact that these officials become aware of international human rights standards could be, in the long run, positive. Moreover, the Iranian government itself established human rights organizations in the 1990s, although they were "mostly smoke-and-mirrors" (p. 279).

Afshari rejects arguments that human rights are not universal and are an attempt to impose Western cultural values at the expense of local cultural tradition (p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Human Rights in Iran: The Abuse of Cultural Relativism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.