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Any member that persistently violates the U.N. Charter can be expelled. That certainly sounds like Tehran.
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The Iranian nuclear crisis has dragged on for some 20 years, despite multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and a phalanx of national sanctions. Many believe that only military force will stop Iran, but even now Tehran doesn’t appear to take such a threat seriously.
One step short of force that the “international community” has been unwilling to take is ostracizing Iran from international organizations, such as the U.N. and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This needs to change.
Iran’s participation in these organizations undermines their foundational principles. The U.N. Charter provides that membership is open to “peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and . . . are able and willing to carry out these obligations.” The Islamic Republic clearly doesn’t fit this bill.
Iran has repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction, using anti-Semitic, anti-Israel rhetoric in violation of the Genocide Convention. It has been repeatedly sanctioned by the Security Council and condemned by the International Atomic Energy Agency for violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has also been cited for aiding the Assad regime’s slaughter of Syrian citizens. Tehran regularly hosts Holocaust-denial conferences.
Yet the U.N. has embraced Iranian leaders. Iran was elected unanimously to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women in 2010. This is a country that flogs women for violating Islamic dress norms and stones them for adultery. Soon after Iran’s election, the commission singled out just one country for condemnation: Israel. During a recent U.N. anti-narcotics conference in Tehran, Iran accused “Zionists” of spreading illegal drugs around the world.
Just this past year, Iran was elected to a leadership role in the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty negotiations—despite its history of arming state sponsors of terror and terrorist groups.
Iran undermines other international organizations, too. Currently, the IMF holds an account with Bank Markazi, Iran’s central bank, totaling some $1 billion. Both the U.S. and the European Union have sanctioned that bank for its money-laundering activities, including funneling money to Iran’s military and nuclear weapons-related facilities.
Iran’s participation in these organizations is unacceptable. Tehran should be held accountable for its defiance of international law. Article 6 of the U.N. Charter explicitly provides for the expulsion of any member “which has persistently violated the Principles contained” therein. That certainly sounds like Iran.
A lesser penalty, under Article 5, is suspension “from the exercise of the rights and privileges of membership.” The U.N. also has the power to reject the credentials of a delegation, as it did in 1974 with regard to the South African delegation, citing its “constant violation of the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Adopting any of these measures would be extraordinarily difficult. Suspension from the U.N. requires approval by the Security Council and a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly. But there are real advantages in making Iran’s friends stand out in the sunshine. Will Russia and China veto a suspension resolution in the council, as they have recently vetoed sanctions resolutions against the Assad dictatorship in Syria? If so, let them reveal the true character of their own regimes, and the behind-the-scenes reality of the U.N. itself.
Both the U.S. and the EU have adopted laws prohibiting their taxpayers’ revenues from lining the pockets of Iranian regime officials and institutions. Yet at the same time, both heavily fund the U.N. and the IMF, facilitating Iran’s destabilizing activities.
Iran’s continued participation in the U.N. and the IMF affords it international legitimacy and platforms to advance its agenda—gutting economic sanctions, among them—and undermines important Western foreign-policy interests.
This September, New York will be forced once again to host Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who will undoubtedly use his speech before the U.N. General Assembly to spew anti-U.S. and anti-Semitic rhetoric. It is time for individual countries to prohibit international institutions from ignoring their own principles.
This is no longer just about Iran flouting the rules and undermining the integrity of international institutions. These institutions are directly enabling Iran’s diplomatic and financial efforts to advance its pursuit of nuclear weapons and destabilizing activities in the Middle East. Many governments and private companies have taken seriously their responsibility to pressure Iran to change course. International organizations must now do the same.
Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations” (Simon & Schuster, 2007). Ms. Silverberg and Mr. Wallace are the president and CEO, respectively, of United Against Nuclear Iran.
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