Monday, July 14, 2014

Gaza and the Conscience of Humanity

ChrisGunness UNOCHA says at least 168 Palestinians killed in Gaza in last week, 80% (133 people) are civilians of whom 21% (36) are children.
The assault continues after six days ,while the tragic scenes displayed in independent media and social networks has horrified many onlookers.
According to reports comming from different locations hundreds of cities have witnessed massive demonstrations against the slaughter in Gaza. Israel is confident that it enjoys the backing of major Western States for its incursion so the public opinion is not relevant for them. Their strategy is to kill the resistance and resilience of the Palestinian nation.
The question that remains for many of us who believe in multilateralism is that what is the relevancy of the UN when it does not make any serious effort to prevent bloodshed and war against defenseless civilians who have suffered for decades snow at the hands of the occupiers and aggressors?
 If the current peacemaking mechanisms remain inefficient , irresponsive, and biased in their performance then many societies would resort to taking their affairs in their own hands and this message would fuel more violence and extremism in today's world.The solidarity of many governments with the people of Gaza is also a hopeful sign , the Chilean Senate took a moment of silence for them.
The question each human being needs to ask is where do I stand on this matter of conscience and humanity today? Gaza will stand as a gauge to expose the true identity of us all.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The First UN Environment Assembly

The first UNEA flew last week in Nairobi. During the early years of the millenium a major issue which was debated in international fora related to the environment concerned the need for a strong,over arching and inclusive body which would include all members of the international community.After years of negotiations and debates the UN Environment Assembly was finally launched. This body if democratically managed, could serve as a model of multilateralism in today's world. 
The first Assembly was an opportunity to debate important challenges such as air quality, illegal trade in wildlife and timber, the new sustainable development goals, sustainable production and consumption and chemicals.The event was of such importance that the President of Kenya attended both the opening and the closing along with Ban Ki Moon the UNSG. More than 160 countries attended mostly at the ministerial level.
The event also provides an important opportunity for exchange of views and dialogue at the bilateral level. On the sidelines of this Assembly Last week I met with Achim Steiner , UNEP executive director and gave him our national team's jersey with the Persian Cheetah design.
I also met with the President of Kenya and spoke of the importance of improving bilateral relations. The environment Ministers of Kenya, Norway, India, Italy, were among those I met and discussed grounds for bilateral collaboration.
A final outcome report was to be adopted at the closing session, but due to the deletion of a phrase reiterating one of the fundamental principles of international law:"common but differentiated responsibilities" consensus was not achieved. This insistence by one certain western state resulted in discord among member states specifically developing countries. This is an indication of the existing rifts between the north and south. 
The global environment is seriously endangered and requires a strong and unified approach among nations to confront current threats and change unsustainable trends. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Persian Cheetahs in the World Cup

After Sepp Blatter visited Iran last year, I proposed that  the  Iranian team use the design of our Persian Cheetah on their jerseys . Blatter brought the idea up in the FIFA council and  the Iranian national team beame the first allowed to use a symbol of biodiversity on its shirt. The Persian Cheetah was designed by an NGO and nature loving artists in Tehran.
In addition, a ball was painted with the design of 31 other countries' endangerd species , named the Bio Ball.
I formally delivered the ball to the Captain last week , before  their departure to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Our team was named "Persian Cheetah" after these events and the issue recieved much publicity. 
Iran is taking part in the World Cup with a message of Peace and Protection of our global environment. We hope that all teams will join us in this campaign and spread the message.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Revisiting the Legacy of Imam Khomeini

I twitted on my Twitter this morning:Imam Khomeini's efforts to establish new model of governance/religious democracy were countered by reactionaries who see no role for people. This phrase marks the major challenges we face today in following the legacy of the Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. From the very early days of the national awakening and uprising against the tyranny of the Shah, Imam Khomeini was approached by radical elemants to take up arms and to invite the people to engage in armed struggle against the monarchial  regime. Imam refrained and emphasized instead on the cultural nature of the revolution and invited people to resist through peaceful protests and strikes. This non violent approach was they key to the massive nationwide support for Imam. 

As opposed to a monarchial dictatorship based on subservience to the west , Imam called for a democratic state based on religious values. Reactionary elements pressed for an Islamic State, while Imam called for national consultations and for an Islamic Republic. These elements went so far as to ask Imam to establish the new state based on demonstrations staged for the Revolution, while Imam stressed on a nationwide referendum which was held in 1979.
In every stage reactionary elemants moved to weaken the democratic pillars of the Revolution , while Imam stood firmly to enact elections and bring people to the polls .He was determined to educate a nation deeply harmed by decades of tyranny and imperialist dominance. If it were not for the fierce and violent attacks of monarchists and radicals and if it were not for the continued active opposition of the west against the Revolution , and fear of  a repetition of history(the Coup of 1953), many observers believe Imam would have taken a less forceful stance against his opponents. Yet what happened later in many parts of the world, and during the Arabian spring or awakening, in countries like Egypt, proved that Imam's vigilance for those early years of the revolution was justified.
Even during the difficult years of war imposed by Saddam Hussein against Iran, Imam never allowed any cancellation of elections or polls .
Along side this democratic approach, Imam also strongly advocated transparency, accountability and an ethical demeanour for Muslim politicians and those wielding power. "The egoistic and selfish drives are the greater enemy" his stressed in most addresses that he made.  The paradigm that Imam envisaged a bold role for women in social and political affairs. Women were never considered as second hand citizens by Imam, but a new pardigm for  women's advancement was enacted in Iran. 
During the 3.5 decades that have elapsed Iran has faced many challenges both external and internal, the Islamic Republic has met expectations in some areas and at some times, at others however there are still  serious issues which need to be addressed. We need to reassess and revisit our actions to ensure that we are still on the right path.
Today an active reactionary campaign is underway to distort and smear the thoughts and ideas of Imam, they are those who have followed their personal or party  agenda these years and have no regard for God or for the nation.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Biodiversity Day

International Biodiversity Day was commemorated yesterday at the DOE Convention Center, in Tehran.We had invited major film producers and artists to appreciate their efforts to enhance public awareness on environmental 
 I spoke about the intrinsic value of the biological diversity that the earth harbors and how this diversity is diminishing. I also noted how important the services this diversity provides and as an example I mentioned the role of bees in pollination of over 60% of our agricultural products. Bee population and species worldwide have been seriously endangered by pesticides use and their products contaminated by toxic chemicals.
We need to educate people on the importance of the protection of our biodiversity for the well being of our people.We our proud that many celebrities have joined us in this campaign to save our natural flora and fauna.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Twelfth Congress of immunology

The Iranian Association for Immunology and Allergy is one of the many scientific associations active in Iran. They had elected me last year as the President of their twelfth Congress.The Congress was held last week at the Milad tower in Tehran. In addition to over 1800 articles submitted to the Congress,
we had over 2000 participants, 40 workshop sessions, dozens of panels and an exhibition for  knowledge based corporations in this field.We also had over 30 international guests, all distinguished Professors of Immunology, including Rolf Zinkernagel, the Medicine Nobel prize laureate of 1996. 
I spoke at the opening ceremony stressing upon the fact that we believe that knowledge has no  boundaries and that it belongs to all humanity, then we should all strive to remove barriers and restrictions set for certain nations. Also, I noted that this great Congress shows how Iranian scientists contribute to this global wealth.This congress is being held when Tehran is experiencing better air quality due to in part, improvement in the quality of petroleum  I said and proposed that an interdisciplinary field of environmental immunology be followed more seriously. I was also honored to invite our Nobel laureate guest to the podium for his speech. Zinkernagel who had discovered the mechanism by which T cells confront viral infections, was now questioning some of the basic dogmas of immunlogy including memory.
The Congress convened all its sessions with high attendence and during the closing ceremony the head of the International Union of Immunological Associations Seppo Morino, noted in his speech that he had attended many Congresses but that he believed this was one of the best in terms of organization, scientific content and attendance.  Our Iranian colleagues had done a great job! 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Prospects for Moderation

Now that eight months have elapsed from the instalment of the government of Dr. Rouhani, it has become more clear how moderation is translated into policy at national and external levels. Serious measures have been taken to improve economic conditions,curb inflation and fluctuating exchange rates, enable a gradual revision of current subsides policy,  and support for employment generation schemes .On social and political dimensions more lawfulness,respect for citizen's rights and freedoms, a resolution of the political stalemate after the 2009 disputed elections ,inclusion of diverse political tendencies in social processes and more support for NGOs,free press, arts and cinema.Dr. Rouhani has faced tremendous pressures and  numerous hurdles in this path. In addition, the government has clearly dealt with environmental issues and the recent improvement in fuel quality and air pollution is an important step in that direction. Resolution of the nuclear issue and improvement of relations with the world have also been pursued in the context of moderation policies. These developments have faced fierce confrontation by radical elements and supporters of the previous government.

The fact that many countries have welcomed this change in policy has  angered radical groups and caused them to react. The firm resolution of the government to pursue the policies of moderation is now evident.

In the Department of Environment we have embarked on a major strategy of "environmental diplomacy" during these months and we have recieved positive feedback in some areas. I met with a group of French Senators last week. We talked about environmental challenges but also ways to improve relations. Since I spoke a few minutes in French, Senator Marini told me they were pleased to meet a Francophone in the Cabinet of Dr. Rouhani.