Tehran summit to focus on sanctions, UN reform
Published Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Condemnation of "unilateral" actions – particularly sanctions on Iran and other nations – and a demand for greater say in UN decision-making dominated talks among foreign ministers in Tehran on Tuesday, as they prepared for a Non-Aligned summit later this week.
The ministers from Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) states were holding two days of discussions to prepare the groundwork for the summit, which will gather dozens of heads of state and government on Thursday and Friday.
Other issues to be covered included a call for the creation of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, and an appeal for nuclear disarmament, particularly in the Middle East, as a path to world peace, according to draft documents before the ministers.
Israel is the only nuclear armed state in the Middle East, and Arab states have previously repeatedly called for it to be disarmed.
Combating terrorism, and upholding human rights and development were also included.
A working document made available on Iran's official NAM website said one of the general principles being upheld was strengthening solidarity with NAM members "living under colonial or alien domination or foreign occupation, and with those experiencing external threats of use of force, acts of aggression or unilateral coercive measures."
Elsewhere, it detailed those themes, for instance calling on members to refuse to follow "unilateral economic sanctions" on NAM states.
More than 50 foreign ministers were involved in the discussions, according to Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast. They were building on work done in the two preceding days by lower-ranking officials and experts.
"Today we are at a time in which, without exaggeration, international relations are quite sensitive," Egypt's deputy foreign minister, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, said as he opened the ministerial meeting before officially handing over the rotating NAM presidency to Iran.
"The meeting is providing a more advanced look at (global) developments by reinforcing cooperation among developing countries and international organizations," he said.
Iran is portraying this week's summit as a blow to US-led efforts to isolate it internationally.
It is expected to brandish any summit agreements slamming sanctions or affirming a right to nuclear energy as validation of its position in its worsening stand-off with Washington over its atomic activities.
The NAM is a 120-member organization founded in 1961, at the height of the Cold War, by nations considering themselves independent of the US-led Western bloc or the then-Soviet Union. It represents nearly two-thirds of the UN's 193 member states, accounting for much of the developing world.
It has also generally taken on an anti-US bent, as evidenced by the fact that Russian and Chinese delegations were invited to observe the Tehran summit, and the language used in documents that often criticizes US policies on NAM members Iran, Cuba and Palestine.
Overall, the NAM seeks greater accountability from the UN Security Council and a greater weight for the UN General Assembly – where it is strongly represented – in making global decisions.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon will be attending the Tehran summit, in a customary observer role, despite criticism from the United States and Israel.