Iran lawmakers to take Rouhani to court over UNESCO document

08.06.2021

Iranian lawmakers have called for filing an official complaint against outgoing President Hassan Rouhani for approving the UNESCO 2030 document on gender equality in education years ago, while its implementation was already suspended in 2017.

The lawmakers said Rouhani did not seek the consent of the Iranian parliament before signing the document and called Rouhani's action "non-constitutional". They called on Iran's hardliner-dominated judiciary to consider the complaint out of turn.

However, the lawmakers acknowledged that the Rouhani administration has already overturned the decision to implement the document after Khamenei rejected it. 

The document was adopted at the World Education Forum in May 2015 as a new global educational agenda that calls for "gender equality and inclusion in education". In September that year, the UN General Assembly endorsed the document as a resolution. 

Based on reports presented to him by Iranian hardliners, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei prohibited the implementation of the document in Iran in May 2017.

 

Iran's hardliners strongly attacked the adoption of the UNESCO document for implementation in Iran and used it against Rouhani during the 2017 presidential election when Rouhani was a candidate.

A letter posted on Rouhani's Instagram at the time, showed that the administration had stopped implementing the UNESCO 2030 document following Khamenei's objection.

In 2017 Khamenei condemned the document that he said was adopted "under Western influence", and stressed that "The Islamic Republic will not surrender to such documents".

Reformists in Iran, however, argued at the time that Friday prayer imams who spoke against the document were misinformed about its content, without naming Khamenei. At the time, hardline clerics such as Ahmad Alamolhoda, the Friday prayer imam of Mashhad, harshly attacked the administration for approving a decision that was aimed at "empowering women" and "promoting gender equality".

The supporters of the document also argued that it was not merely about gender equality, but it also covered areas including sustainable development, climate change and environment and was aimed at benefitting the coming generations.

Iran's hardliners and conspiracy theorists, however, maintained that the document was intended to adversely affect the next generation of Iranians. Khamenei stressed: “The basis, in this country, is Islam and the Koran. This is not a land where the defective, corrupt and destructive Western lifestyle will be permitted to expand its influence.”

Meanwhile, an academic official affiliated with the Basij militia, Sohrab Salahi stated in 2017 that "U.S. spies have deceived Iranian simpleton officials through UNESCO’s Educational Project to surrender Iran’s ‘great cultural capacity’ to the Americans.” Meanwhile, hardliner daily Kayhan funded by Khamenei's office said that the document was a tool that was being used to "infiltrate the Iranian educational system".

Like most other developments in Iran, the opposition to the UNESCO document was also part of the constant factional fighting between hardliners headed by Khamenei and relatively moderate politicians in the Rouhani administration. Although the National UNESCO Commission in Iran announced that the document is not binding for any government, the hardliners have been using it against the Rouhani administration during the past four years.

The reason why this debate is continuing just weeks before Rouhani leaves office is likely to ensure that he will not be a key player in the future of Iran when the country is to be controlled by hardliners in parliament and in the presidential palace.    (IranInternational)

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