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Iran: Towards a New Context for
Regional and Global Security

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1) Abstract

I want to advocate that we put the issue of Iran's fuel enrichment programme in to the wider context of environmental security on the one hand, and the need for truly international participation in making decisions about our shared future, on the other This means opening up much more informed dialogue about what expertise currently underrepresented groups and countries could, want and should contribute to global solutions from the breadth and depth of their own geographic, historic, cultural, spiritual and political experience.

We impoverish the repertoire of solutions to global problems if we do not seek the full engagement of partners such as Iran in our international decision making fora. This must include a leading role in improving the regulatory framework of the IAEA so that it has the mandate and the authority to enforce conformity to standards of international security.

Unless we seriously improve the quality of dialogue between global partners in the West and East and the North and the South, not only at the level of governments but crucially, across civil society, so as to reduce the current climate of fear, we will not achieve the global cooperation needed to tackle the global challenges we are facing in the 21st century , and which are set out clearly in the UN Millennium Development Goals

Hilde RAPP

by Hilde RAPP
Co-Director of the Centre for International Peacebuilding, England

The Nuclear Fuel Debate in the Context of Environmental Security

Debates about environmental security need to address our growing concern about climate change as the motor for future political conflict, as resources become scarce within certain geographical boundaries and environmental disasters overwhelm people in different parts of the world. The recent earthquake in Indonesia has brought yet more sorrow into world to which we need to respond as a global community, but we know that we must prevent the further degradation of our environment by taking pro-active steps to reduce carbon emissions if our children and grandchildren are to inherit a world fit for human beings to live in. Iran's fuel programme needs to be seen in this context.

We still do not involve all people in the structures and processes designed to address global problems, but all too often endeavour to set agendas for people concerning issues in which they should in fact take the lead. Despite the D 8, ASEAN, the African Union and other such Eastern and Southern decision making fora, there still is no properly balanced system (not even within the United Nations) for achieving truly international participation that includes partners from all four corners of our world. As professor Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh of Tehran's Tarbiat Modaress University has pointed out many times, even within such regional fora such as the D 8, there is no proper mechanism for ensuring joint working (Mojtahezadeh, 2004, 2006). Similarly, as the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and his chancellor, Gordon Brown, recently recognized, following up on the implementation of the Commission for Africa report and the UK's EU presidency of the G8 and its impact on the African Union, many of these regional bodies are themselves not properly represented and engaged in the larger international structures which regulate at the global level arrangements that impact on regional and national issues, such as the WTO, IMF or World Bank. It is interesting to note that possible Iranian membership of the WTO has recently entered the political dialogue between the US and Iran.

In addition, there is still no real understanding in the West and in the North of the cultural wealth of the East and the South and its importance for rethinking global problems which are currently formulated by drawing predominantly on Western and Northern traditions of thought and inquiry, leading, by the same token, to a very restricted and impoverished repertoire of envisaged solutions. Iran plays a pivotal role in international security and it needs to be involved as a full partner in all relevant regional and international endeavours.

I urge everyone who is committed to tackling the fundamental issues that face the global community today to work together to open up the space for widening the public debate concerning security sector reform. There is increasing recognition that in order to meet the security needs of individual countries, we require regional and global co-operation in improving food security, disaster relief, environmental protection, economic development, governance and civil society involvement. As is very clear right now in sub Saharan Africa, both problems and solutions, transcend the boundaries both between countries and between disciplines. Everywhere economies are codependent on each other, and the reciproacal trade relationships between Iran and its neighbours is no exception, as we know from statistics presented by Tierry Coville today (Coleville (2005), (2006)).

Brigadier Michael Harbottle made a whole-systems-perspective the cornerstone of the approach of the Centre for International Peacebuilding, which he and his wife Eirwen founded in 1982. In 1992 he set out a modernization agenda for the military of the twenty first century advocating that it is time to shift the balance of responsibilities towards peacekeeping and peacebuilding by helping to create the conditions for viable governance through proactive international involvement in state building and environmental protection (Harbottle, 1992). Indeed the foreign policy of the UK government recognizes the need for close interdepartmental cooperation between, especially those government department which are responsible for security, development and international relations and the cabinet office by creating formal mechanisms for joint working, for instance through its conflict resolution pools.

Nuclear warheads are capable of laying vast tracts of land to waste and poisoning our environment for decades or more.

Without economic and environmental sustainability there can be no security. We need everyone to participate in finding new and sustainable ways to meet our resource needs. We need to work together to build healthy societies by transcending the politically drawn dividing lines between East and West, North and South. We need to restructure the UN to enable proper dialogue and cooperation between all nations and all peoples if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, and deliver on the aims of the Peacebuilding Commission- and serious reforms are under way.

There is little doubt that climate change is fast becoming the greatest threat to global security. Indeed, the British Broadcasting Corporation is currently screening a wake up call entitled Climate Chaos on a weekly basis. Now is the time to engage in inclusive multi-sectoral and multi-lateral cooperation to research how we may save our planet Earth rather than destroy it. Nuclear warheads are capable of laying vast tracts of land to waste and poisoning our environment for decades or more. Yet, despite the commitment to nuclear disarmament, the North and West is not giving up its nuclear weapons even though this commitment was the basis for motivating all nations not already in possession of nuclear arms to sign the Non Proliferation Treaty, giving away their right to develop nuclear weapons in the future.

In view of the military intervention in the internal affairs of Iraq, the peoples of the East and the South do not experience the existence of nuclear weapons in the North and the West as a deterrent against nuclear escalation and hence as the intended guarantor of global security. Rather, they experience the continued presence of nuclear weapons in the North and the West as a threat to their own security. Iran as Iraq's immediate neighbour has reason to feel particularly under threat by the West, especially in view of much White House rhetoric indicting Iran as part of the "axis of evil", and the threats of targeted nuclear strikes against urianium enrichment plants as a so called last resort, if the new willingness to dialogue fails to achieve an accommodation. I am not very familiar with a format and logic of dialogue which preempts the outcome of the dialogue from the outset: "I will discuss with you your position regarding the need for fuel enrichment programmes in Iran on condition that you suspended your fuel enrichment programmes' does not sound like a proper invitation to dialogue unless the US government is asking for a temporary halt while the issues are put on the table fairly and squarely, in analogy to agreeing a ceasefire in order to start up a peace process.

At the same time the West and the North feel under threat in light of President Ahmadinejad's strong objection to the Israeli occupation of Palestine which was widely misreported in the Western media as a direct threat to wipe Israel off the map. President Ahmadinejad in fact spoke at length about how it had seemed utterly impossible that the oppressive administrations of Shah Reza Pahlavi, and of President Saddam Hussein could ever be brought to an end, that the communist regime of the Soviet Union would topple, and yet these events happened, and therefore people should have hope that the oppressive administration of Israel too could be "wiped off the map" of history. It is crucial that we distinguish between political objections to advocating Zionism on the one hand, to the institutionally oppressive occupation of Palestinian territory on the other, both of which are shared by some Jewish people also, and thirdly, virulent anti-Semitism which must be strenuously opposed everywhere, and fourthly, direct threats to the lives of Jewish people which need to be taken extremely seriously by all security forces everywhere. There is a significant difference between 1. political advocacy, expressed in terms of rhetoric, spin, propaganda 2. structural violence, expressed in terms of institutionalized oppression, 3. cultural violence, expressed as discrimination and prejudice such as anti-Semitism or Islamophobia, and 4. direct violence, expressed as physical harm towards individuals and direct incitement to perform violent acts (Galtung et al, 2002, Rapp 2003, Rapp in press).

The more we sensationalise such news stories, by sheering all cashmere goats over the same comb, pulling out the coarse hairs with the fine, the more we loose sight of the nuanced and differentiated views that are held in all societies, even if they may not be represented by the rhetorics of their government leaders. There are more voices in Iran, to my knowledge who passionately oppose any nuclear arms race in the region and who do not want to see Iran develop nuclear arms than there are advocates for a security strategy that involves tit for tat power broking through nuclear "deterrents" (Afshar et al, 2006a, 2006b), and who fiercely oppose anti-Semitism and indeed any kind of religious or ethnic prejudice and most certain direct violence against minorities (Ebadi 2006a). Hassan Rohani, representative of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, on the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and Iran's former top nuclear negotiator wrote on 9 May 2006 in Time magazine (Rohani, 2006) : "A nuclear weaponized Iran destabilizes the region, prompts a regional arms race, and wastes the scarce resources in the region. And taking account of U.S. nuclear arsenal and its policy of ensuring a strategic edge for Israel, an Iranian bomb will accord Iran no security dividends. There are also some Islamic and developmental reasons why Iran as an Islamic and developing state must not develop and use weapons of mass destruction".

Much of the debate in the North and the West is fuelled by concerns about the long term future of fossil fuel production as well as the long term environmental sustainability of fossil fuel energy. There are economic as well as moral issues involved here, and they do not always work in the same direction. However, from this perspective, Iran is legitimately concerned about how it is to meet the energy needs of seventy million Iranian people in ways that guarantee the environmental and economic security of the country and its people. On current projections, Iran's energy needs cannot be met adequately and sustainably by the country's own fossil fuel reserves, especially if some of their supplies go to India and China and indeed to the United Arab Emirates in return for essential goods and services ((Coville (2006), Reveillard (2006)).

The long term hostility of the West and the North to the Iranian government and the threat of further sanctions only reinforce Iran's endeavours towards self sufficiency wherever possible. The bitter history of the changing alliances of the West with governments in the East, and the aftermath of the involvement of the West in the removal of the Mossadeq government and the reinstatement of the Shah, followed, by support for the Bathist regime in the Iran- Iraq war, which to many Iranians felt like a second betrayal ads to this fierce determination to be - as far as is possible in a global mesh of interdependencies- economically self sufficient and politically self governing. This has also the basis for Iran's resistance to accepting the current proposals of providing nuclear fuel capacity outside its borders and for privileging its independence over any trade benefits that might be granted by the European Union. However, recent development seem to suggest a greater willingness on behalf of President Ahmadinejad to at least explore the potential of such agreements for an appeasement.

Whatever may be the passionate quarrel between the Iranian people and their government regarding the incomplete implementation of democracy and human rights legislation, twenty five hundred years of shared recorded history and culture will always remain a strong common bond which will unite the people of Iran to stand behind their government against any external threat. This point is also being made by Shirin Ebadi who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her courage and determination, in the face of death threats, to continue fighting for the full implementation of the programme of the Iranian revolution which rallied the Iranian people behind their new leaders by promising democracy, freedom, equality and justice (Ebadi 2006 a) and 2006 b). Rome was not built in a day, and neither will a fully democratic Iran.: la lutte continue...

With the proviso that we do find any satisfactory answers to how we might safely dispose of nuclear waste, public debate in the North and the West revolves around the potential of nuclear power to make savings in carbon emissions and thus to halt climate change. If nuclear energy could really be the clean renewable fuel of the future, as the British Prime Minister Tony Blair seems now to advocate, it would be a tragedy to encourage developing countries in the South and the East to continue to meet the energy needs of their own fast growing economies and populations solely with conventional fuels. Unless we find a global accord where every nation is encouraged to curb their carbon emissions, climate change will accelerate the deterioration of our habitats and the loss of biodiversity across species at an alarming rate. This concern is beginning to inform policy decisions with respect to the African continent, but this really needs to be a global debate involving all countries and especially the oil producing countries in the Middle East and beyond.

It is important to note that neither the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (IPCC working group II (1995)), nor the Asian Development Bank (1995) share the view that nuclear fuels are the way forward in the race to halt climate change N.B: I am not in this article advocating for a nuclear fuel sulution to cutting carbon emissions. I am, however, at pains to point out, that Western powers, and especially the UK and US, appear to be speaking with forked tongue: Nuclear fuel is best for the West, but should be banned for the rest.

We need a global debate on these issues that thoroughly explores energy security in general and takes seriously all arguments for and against particular solutions. Iran is in a unique position, historically, geographically, culturally and economically to make a significant contribution to this global debate, as has been pointed out on many occasions by our host, Ali Rastbeen, president of the Institute International d'Etudes Stratégiques , IRIS, (Rastbeen, 2006). Furthermore, Iran and is well positioned to share its expertise in achieving the Millenium Development Goals under the kind of difficult conditions shared by many developing countries (see also references ) .

Under current regulations it is, in fact, lawful, under Article IV of the Non Proliferation Treaty for Iran to develop a nuclear power programme, provided the agreed International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) safeguards are in place. As it stands, the IAEA rules do not preclude the attainment of a level of nuclear capability which enables the building of nuclear weapons. It is entirely unclear on what legal rather than political grounds the North and the West are singling out Iran for a ban on developing a nuclear programme, especially if this programme is expressly earmarked for ecologically responsible energy production. This point has also been made by Paul Ingram (Ingram 2006).

As Hassan Rohani has pointed out : "Three years of robust inspection of Iranian nuclear and non-nuclear facilities by the IAEA inspectors led Dr. El-Baradi to conclude and certify that to date there are no indications of any diversion of nuclear material and activities toward making a bomb. At the same time, El-Baradi has pointed out that the IAEA cannot certify that Iran's program is exclusively peaceful. But the fact is that few among many states with a nuclear program have received such a clean bill of health from the IAEA. Such certification by the IAEA does and should take time and effort. Iran is prepared and willing to invest the time and effort necessary to receive the IAEA clean bill of health. The IAEA is also ready to pursue its investigation of Iran's nuclear activities. So should the states that have concern about it."

The current political war of words, far from serving to improve global security by trying to enforce a ban, is escalating a deadly game of promoting fear on all sides, inevitably inflaming a conflict in which all sides fear to loose face, especially vis-à-vis their respective electorates or subjects (see also the Enough- fear campaign below). It would be a much clearer political message if the key actors in this conflict were to take the lead in a truly international initiative to re- examine the current agreements enshrined in the Non Proliferation Treaty. We need a new "coalition of the willing" to set out a clear roadmap for:

1.    phasing out existing nuclear weapons stocks

2.    committing not to build new nuclear weapons and formulating and implementing a more explicit contractual agreement which prevents break-out from the NPT.

3. co-operating in setting up and independent international fund for researching sources of safe and sustainable renewable energy which includes nuclear energy production for economic use, and co-developing appropriate technology, with free access and use of outcomes

4.    extending the existing IAEA regulatory framework to set clear IAEA guidelines for regulating the scope and timing of industrial-scale reactor grade uranium enrichment programmes for all member states which specifies an explicit IAEA verifiable cap, limiting the production of UF6 - uranium hexafluoride. El Baradi's proposal to se up an internationally funded and regulated facility for enriching uranium deserves proper exploration firming up on a globally acceptable Kyoto agreement to which all governments are duty bound to sign up, perhaps enforced by a UN resolution, tying this agenda to proposals for funding the delivery of the Millennium Development Goals, specifically, goals no 7 and 8. Goal no 7: Ensure environmental sustainability, obliges all countries including Iran to make energy efficient use of all its resources. A genuine commitment by the Iranian government to implement environmental sustainability and develop energy security in Iran should be demonstrated by putting into effect serious energy conservation measures designed to tighten up the energy market within Iran so that people use fuel more efficiently. As was pointed out by Gregory Schulte, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, this must include conserving and utilizing natural gas which is currently all too often flared off (Schulte 2006).

With respect to the overall thrust of this article, the achievement of goal no 8: Develop a global partnership for development, Iran, as the host country of the D8 summit, is well positioned to share information about lessons learnt, especially regarding strategies for dramatically improving education and healthcare under geographical, climactic and demographic conditions which in many respects match those of developing countries.

5.    setting up an international forum in which all countries with sensitive fuel cycle programs work together to close the loopholes in the non-proliferation system by developing a technically credible international control regime. This might include developing an amendment to the Additional Protocol, which regulates the terms for unannounced on site spot inspections.

Iran should be an active and welcome partner in such an enterprise. As Hassan Rohani wrote, "Iran's readiness to welcome other countries to partner with Iran in a consortium provides additional assurance about the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program".

The current international conflict surrounding the wish of the Iranian government to develop a nuclear fuel capacity needs to be seen it the context of this much wider debate.

The Nuclear Fuel Debate in the Context of a Crisis of Communication

We are facing an impasse which is to a great extent exacerbated by a serious failure in communication with the Iranian government, compounded but the even more serious failure to engage in proper dialogue with the Iranian people, and, indeed, with civil society in Muslim countries in general.

The Huntingdonian rhetoric, proclaiming that we are embroiled in a "clash of civilizations", (Huntingdon (1997) is, in my view, both dangerous and misguided. It invites us into the trap of "black and white", "us and them" thinking, rather than opening a space for sustained and serious, truly inclusive, international dialogue about differences between nations, cultures, economic lobbies, ethnic groups, generations and the sexes. We need to engage in vigorous and rigorous as well as compassionate dialogue about the inevitable conflicts between vision and values within and between all sectors of society, locally, nationally and internationally. We need to use a living systems approach so as to analyse and deconstruct the reciprocal relationships between strategic objectives, mission statements and operational implementation plans which inform complex conflicts and wicked and often explosive problems as well as their solution. Such differences in value driven priorities also interact with how societies set up systems of governance, wealth creation and distribution. Don Beck and Chris Cowan (Beck and Cowan, 1996) have developed a scale of eight different value systems, called Spiral Dynamics in order to help conflict actors to map differences relating to incompatible value systems. Don Beck has also formulated the concept of "stratified democracies" (pers com, Tonkin (2003)), in order to describe transitional governance arrangements for countries which are moving from dictatorships through single party systems towards representative democracies or other forms of multi-stakeholder forms of governance. As professor Hall Gardner put it in a lecture in Paris in December 2005 (addressing international security in general, including relations with Iran, but specifically in this passage the events at Banlieue), ...(in the eyes of Samuel Huntington), ... the Europeans are now confronted with the "Islamic" challenge. The "Clash of Civilizations" school argues that groups of Hispanic background in the US, and those of Islamic background in Europe, have proven more difficult, if not impossible, to assimilate/ integrate than previous groups or immigrants. Riots in the French (and European) banlieue in November - December 2005 appeared, at least on the surface, to substantiate the "Clash of Civilizations" thesis. Yet the deeper roots stem not from "Islam" but from a structural and economic crisis relating to lack of social and economic opportunities for a number of social and ethnic groups, a crisis which the EU as a whole needs to respond (Gardner, 2006). My own position extends this kind of argument to the international arena by arguing that with respect to the Iran crisis, we likewise need to respond by involving all relevant international political, social, religious, military and economic fora, which, together with the UN, have been created to foster the development of ever more democratic forms of governance, and that have been mandated to negotiate solutions to local, national and international conflicts of interest by peaceful means wherever and whenever this is at all possible (See also Gardner (2005). Increasingly, these institutions and political mechanisms depends on active participation by civil society (Tehrani, (2002) (see also references).

We are facing major decisions that affect all of us and the survival of our planet and we must take these decisions together as one human family, however many conflicts we may have to transcend along the way. All societies, not just developing societies in the East and in the South, struggle to meet human needs and to respect human rights. In many countries in the South and the East, where arrangements for citizen participation in decision making may not conform to Western models of representative democracy, such as in Iran, civil society actors and the diaspora community nonetheless fully engage with the arguments of post modernism and Western philosophy, sociology, political science Legenhausen (2000), Soroush (2000) and worry about gender inequalities, issues of post modern identity, labour relations and wealth creation. Many of these writings are published in English for instance, research and theorizing about identity (Bahmanpour & Bashir (2000) ) Ansari KH (2000), gender roles and equality (Mahrizi (2004), Khaniki (2000), Rostameh Povey, 2005, 2006, Ebadi,(2006) , economics and social justice (Mofid (2005), El Diwany (2003), health and education and issues of governance in general (Soroush (2000), Ansari A (2004), Ansari, M (2005), Alavi (2006), Legenhausen (2000)). For critiques of the current system of governance in Iran see Ansari M (2005), Ebadi (2006), Kashefi (2006), Alavi (2005).

Iranian citizens are, according to some estimates, the forth largest contributor to the volume of blogging on the Internet. Iranians debate the pros and cons of the concept and the institution of democracy and its relationship to Islam, (Alavi (2005), Kashefi (2006)). Iranians, and Muslims world wide debate how to interpret the holy scriptures in accordance with the needs for contemporary society without loosing their spiritual integrity and guidance (Baktiari (2000),Legenhausen (2000)). Drawing on Islamic theological argument and Qoranic interpretation, Mahrizi (2004) courageously argues for the full emancipation of women in Iran. From this perspective the hijab is seen as an instrument of emancipation, liberating women from the role of being exploited sex objects and "valuing them for their intelligence, character and productivity".

There is a thriving scientific community and Iranians have many times expressed a great desire for playing their part in scientific, technological and cultural cooperation at an international level. Indeed, Western science already owes a huge historic debt to the many Persian scholars who, in the heyday of the Islamic empire of the middle ages, contributed about 40 percent of published scientific literature as researchers, collators and translators. Much of this knowledge, especially that of the Greeks which inspired the European renaissance and the growth of Western science would have bee lost to us had it not been for its preservation by Persian scholars in the East and by Jewish scholars in the West of the Islamic caliphate (Ellwood, 1952).

The level of illiteracy in women has dropped from 30 percent to 12 percent in the sixteen years between 1980 and 1996..

For every five Iranian households one person is either already a graduate or currently engaged in higher education. Already ten years ago, on average, every Iranian village has between 2 and 3 graduates, and the level of illiteracy in women has dropped from 30 percent to 12 percent in the sixteen years between 1980 and 1996 (male illiteracy is only 8 percent). Women teach in universities and hold political office and many women from rural and working class backgrounds are now literate and employed. Over the same period the registration of women students in higher education rose from thirty percent to sixty five percent of all university places. (Khaniki, 2000
). This is despite the persisting inequalities regarding the rights of women to equal pay and fair compensation and a downturn in appointments to high office in the last two years following a more hard line approach to governance, which has also led to an increase female unemployment (Povey (2005), (2006). It would seem that Iran is a country of paradoxes (Ebadi (2006a)), but then paradox and contradiction have always been the motor of change!

It is tragic that the Western media representation of Iran does little to counteract an image of Iran as the home of women in burkhas, bearded Muslim fanatics , martyrs and supporters of international terrorism, or at best, as the source of saffron, pistachios, and oriental rugs, the site of the blue mosque, and the birthplace of the medieval Sufi poets, of whom Jallaluddin Rumi has become a household name.

Of course, Iran has its own share of the problems that face most modern and modernizing societies. Unemployment is running into double figures according to World Bank estimates, certainly for women. This is, in part, due to educated young people joining the labour market at a greater rate than the economy can expand to absorb them. There are disputes between employers and trade unions, which led to violent demonstrations recently. There is disengagement, dissatisfaction, crime and prostitution. Drug and sexual health problems are being tackled, and it is worth remembering that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, when he was mayor of Tehran, decriminalized drug misuse and instituted the -- to my knowledge, first -- public, accessible and free needle exchange and treatment programme in the world. Of course, there are concerns about the limits to the freedom of speech, and indeed the Iranian investigative journalist Akbar Ganji, the first recipient of the Foreign Press Association (UK) "Dialogue of Cultures Award", has been in prison for nearly six years for his openly critical writings and nearly died from a 43 day hunger strike, and many others have been assassinated or gone into exile.

However Iranians are looking for ways of tackling these problems just as energetically as people do elsewhere. Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner of 2003, who lives and works in Tehran, and who will be speaking in London this evening about her struggle for the human rights of women and children is a shining example of the commitment of the ordinary people of Iran, and of Iranian women in particular, to put their society to rights and to insist on dialogue with their religious leaders, their government and their judiciary about governance, often at great personal risk of imprisonment, execution or exile.

Many Iranians are involved in NGOs, some of which are in receipt of international recognition as world leaders in their field, such as The Ladies Charitable Society (LCS) with 2,000 dedicated members and volunteers inside Iran and overseas, with branches established in London, Los Angeles, San Jose, Seattle, and Toronto. LCS has pioneered the work of the Kahrizak Charity Foundation (KCF), a private, non-governmental, charitable organization, which operates the Kahrizak Center for Living, Education and Rehabilitation of the Disabled and the Elderly, a 1600-bed, 400,000-square meter, state-of-the-art center, the like of which may not exist anywhere else in the world. Given, the cultural values of reverence for the aged together with the distinguished history of Iran in setting up the first world class medical schools, public examinations and inspectorates and specialist hospitals as early as 1160 under the direction of Al Daula in Baghdad, this comes as no surprise (Elwood, 1952). The Ladies Charitable Society also pioneers an imaginative community support system for educating and caring for over a thousand children orphaned in the last two earthquakes.

We must stop demonizing and romanticizing the people of Iran, who are by and large every bit as curious and modern as we are, just as much concerned to open educational and economic opportunities for those of their citizens who have for historic reasons had fewer opportunities to thrive and develop. Iranians are just as passionate to make the world a better place, and just as easily angered as people in the West when their convictions or beliefs are threatened (Kashefi, 2006). Also, because of the history and culture of the country and the love hate relationship with the United States (Ekovich (2006)), Iran plays and important strategic role in East West dialogue and political and economic relations (Rastbeen (2006), Gardner 2006) which should not be jeopardized by uncompromising approaches to the current political crisis regarding Iran's fuel enrichment programmes.

In time, I hope we will learn the art of non violent communication, but for now we need to contain and strive to prevent extreme and extremist forms of protest everywhere. Whether in Iran or Ethiopia, in the UK or the Ukraine, dissenters put themselves at risk and are likely to suffer human rights abuses. The UN Declaration of Human Rights, the International Criminal Court, and the UN Millennium Development Goals are testimony to our common commitment that people have a right to have their human needs met and to be protected against human rights abuses wherever they are. All over the world dedicated people risk their lives to uphold these rights, be this in Iran, the US, Croatia, Zimbabwe, Austria, Australia, Columbia or Colombia, China, Myanmar, or indeed anywhere in the world. Of course we are shocked and saddened to learn that since the Iranian revolution in 1979, according to Tolerance International (2006), 120,000 Iranians have lost their lives through execution, and last year alone according to Amnesty International at least eight of these were children. While the international community can and must publicise these events in order to mobilize international public opinion and while we can work to strengthen our institutions and we can put pressure on our governments to put pressure on all governments in the world to sign and implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it will fall to Iranian lawyers and judges to see that justice is done their country, that legal reforms are set in motion and that the legal process supports interpretations of sharia law that are consistent with 21 century civilized society. Iranian lawyers such as Shirin Ebadi, Iranian judges and clerics, and Iranian women (Mahrizi (2004) do just that on a daily basis, for which they deserve our respect, our support, and our protection.

Summer 2006
Issue# 18
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