By Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh, Executive Editor of Iran Review
1. During the 20th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in June and July 2012, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Navi Pillay criticized treatment of protesting Canadian students in Quebec by the Canadian government, noting that Ottawa’s behavior restricted the right of assembly. Subsequently, Canada’s representative in the Council reacted by recriminating the high commissioner of “misguidedly commenting” on the human rights situation in Canada. That hurried reaction was shown by a country which, as noted by independent nongovernmental organizations (1), ranked the first among 192 member states of the Human Rights Council by offering 908 recommendations to criticize the situation of human rights in other member states during the first round of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Canada is a country which has been knowingly trying to introduce itself as a role model for observing human rights at international level. Perhaps, not being able to tolerate even a simple critical comment could be a good touchstone against which the truth of Canada’s claim to being a role model for human rights can be tested.
2. It was quite strange that a few months ago, the Canadian government decided out of the blue to close the visa section of its embassy in Tehran followed by sudden closedown of the entire embassy in September 2012 and asking Iranian diplomats in Ottawa to leave its soil in a matter of five days. The reasoning used by the Canadian government and its Foreign Minister John Baird to justify the measure made it look even more strange.
However, the measure was followed by the publication of a high volume of expert analyses most of which suggesting that Canada had been most possibly under the pressure from Israel and the United States to close its Tehran embassy. They also noted that similar spontaneous decisions had been already taken in other cases by Canada’s conservative government.
Such analyses clearly proved that it was difficult for a large part of political elites, who were well-versed about international processes and challenges, to believe the reasons that the Canadian Foreign Ministry gave for the sudden closedown of its embassy in Tehran. Clues and quotes mentioned by Eric Walberg in his article (2) about the influence of Israel’s policies and demands on Canada’s conservative government as well as the approach that Shahir Shahid-Saless has taken to this issue in another article (3) all serve to uphold the above hypothesis.
3. Not long ago, Canada was a country famed for its healthy approach to international relations. The measures taken by that country in such areas as providing humanitarian aid, mediation between disputing states, establishment and maintenance of peace in conflict areas, and providing developmental aid to less developed countries were so numerous that nobody could doubt that country’s role in creating a world with less tension, or its efforts to instill peace and friendship among countries. That role, however, has been waning for a while. In a surprising turn of events which had no precedence in the past 50 years, Canada failed to garner enough votes to become a member of the Security Council in October 2010 and was replaced by Portugal. The failure was clear reaction of international community to changes that Canada had made to its basic policies and this issue echoed widely in the Canadian print media as well.
4. Under the present international atmosphere, the value and importance of countries is measured according to such components as soft power potentials, the affectionate attention that they get, independent and rational policies that they adopt, participation in international humanitarian activities and, on the whole, their moderate and overarching approach to international interactions. It is not good for a country to allow its independence become the victim of Cold War era approaches which seek to get concessions through alignment with a political bloc like the United States or Israel. It is even worse for a country like Canada.
Sometimes, an uncalculated measure can perhaps be justified in line with a country’s nationalistic policies or special circumstances in which a country finds itself. However, nobody can dispel the feeling that the blow dealt to Canada’s independence and self-reliance through its recent rash decisions has been much more drastic than the blow that was dealt to Iran as a result of complete severance of diplomatic ties between two countries.
... Payvand News - 09/18/12 ... --