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Report: “No prosperity without justice: the UK’s relationship with Iran”

16 December 2020

The Foreign Affairs Committee has published its report No prosperity without justice: the UK’s relationship with Iran. The report highlights the need for the UK Government to foster a long-term, international response that addresses Iran’s wider destabilising activities.

The report recommends a range of measures the UK Government should take in order to address the impact that the Iranian state’s actions have had regionally and internationally, and on the lives of the Iranian people.

Proscription of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)

The report finds that the actions of the IRGC meet the criteria for proscription in the Terrorism Act 2000, due to its clear and enduring support for terrorists and non-state actors working to undermine stability in the region.

It recommends that the Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary assess the available information on the IRGC with the intention of proscribing the organisation in its entirety.

This is a logical extension of the existing restrictions placed on members of the IRGC by the EU's sanctions regime and would follow the US’ decision to proscribe the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in 2019.

Chair's Comments

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, said:

“Proscribing the IRGC in its entirety is a natural next step in response to the IRGC’s bankrolling and bolstering of terrorism. The group’s destructive philosophy and violence within Iran and across the region make a compelling case for it to be singled out for sanction.” 

Replacement of the Nuclear Deal

The report emphasises the need for the UK Government and allies to work towards the replacement of the JCPOA.

The Committee found that the deal is a ‘shell of an agreement’ and calls on the Foreign Secretary to outline what a successor to the JCPOA will seek to achieve, and for the UK to play a leading role in spearheading its replacement.

Chair's Comments

“Despite good intentions, the JCPOA was an agreement built on weak foundations. The slow death of the nuclear deal seems to have been inevitable and, following the actions in the Majlis, it now appears beyond repair. 

“The UK Government should work to broker a replacement to the JCPOA which also addresses regional security.

"The voices of allies in the region and in Europe, and with the new US administration, need to come together to ensure a diplomatic option is available to those in Iran who are looking for a solution to decades of isolation.”

Acknowledgement of state hostage taking

The report finds that the FCDO’s current approach to consular disputes is clearly not working, and the UK must acknowledge that the practice of the Iranian state arbitrarily detaining nationals amounts to ‘State Hostage Taking’.

The report recommends that the FCDO improve the support offered to individuals taken hostage, and well as their families, and provide clarity as to which resources are available.

The UK should play a leading role in shaping a united international response, using the UK’s position in the UN to establish an ad hoc Committee to draft a complementary stand-alone addition to the 1979 Hostages Convention which defines 'State Hostage Taking' and prohibits its practice.

The UK should also prioritise using Magnitsky sanctions to target specific Iranian human rights abusers.

Chair's Comments

“The UK Government must call the arbitrary detention of foreign nationals what it is: hostage taking.

"The charges, trials and convictions of British citizens on Iranian soil are a parody of a justice system.

"Using young mothers and retirees as bargaining chips and leverage is an unacceptable form of diplomacy.

“The FCDO has faced criticism for its apparent inertia and lacklustre response to state-sponsored hostage taking, and it is clear that a more decisive, coordinated approach is needed.”

Protection of Iranian people

The report emphasises the Iranian state’s disregard for the human rights of its citizens and calls on the UK to continue to express support for those suffering under the violence of the regime.

Chair's Comments

“The greatest victims of the Iranian regime are the Iranian people themselves.

"For too long innocent Iranians have suffered violence and human rights violations at the hands of their own government.

“It is right that we continue to call out and sanction this behaviour, but we need also to demonstrate that we will work with others to support the Iranian people.”

Further information

Image: Peggy Marcovia, Pixabay