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Iran Fails To Halt UN Assembly Rights Resolution

UN headquarters in New York

UN headquarters in New York

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- Western states claimed a success when on November 21 a UN General Assembly resolution condemning human rights violations in Iran passed through a key committee more easily than in the past.

Iran's bid to halt action on the resolution in the assembly's third committee -- meaning it would have been shelved -- was defeated by 81 votes to 71. A similar move on a similar resolution last year was stopped by just one vote.

The committee then passed the resolution by 70 votes to 51, although 60 countries abstained. The resolution goes to the full assembly next month, but diplomats said the outcome was expected to be the same and the key vote was in the committee.

The nonbinding resolution, sponsored mainly by Western countries and put forward by Canada, expresses "deep concern at serious human rights violations" in Iran.

It urges Iran to end alleged torture and cruel punishment of detainees, executions of juveniles, stonings to death, violent repression of women demonstrators, discrimination against ethnic minorities and members of the Baha'i faith, and restrictions on freedom of religion and belief.

"The importance of this resolution is to put the spotlight on Iran's very poor human rights record," British Ambassador John Sawers told reporters.

Bani Dugal, a New York-based Baha'i spokeswoman, said the assembly action had "cleared the way for a thorough investigation of human rights abuses in Iran."

She said the entire seven-member Baha'i national leadership in Iran was being held in jail in Tehran.

There was no immediate reaction from Iran's UN mission.