the vice presidency for Women & Family Affairs Isalmic Republic Of Iran

"Achievements and Plans of Citizen’s Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran"

Speech by Shahindokht Molavardi; Special Assistant to the President on Citizenship Rights (February 12, 2018)

Saturday 17 February 2018 - 13:56

Greetings. I am honored for having been given the opportunity to present to this gathering the report on the achievements and programs in place for solidifying citizenship rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

More than a year has elapsed since the proclamation of the Charter of Citizen’s Rights was passed on December 29, 2016. This document is based on principles such as human dignity, the protection of indisputable rights and freedoms, the sovereignty of the people, equal human rights for all, non-discrimination, and universal equal protection under the law. These are the rights and obligations that the people of Iran have repeatedly called for during the struggles of their contemporary history until today and the nation has paid a heavy price in this process.

Thus, the current government has demonstrated its commitment, accountability and political will in pursuit of the aspirations of liberation and the reign of justice over the nation, as well as the execution of one of the most important promises of President Hassan Rouhani. Our chief executive who is responsible for the implementation and protection of the constitution, with the "notification and declaration" of this charter, took the first step in realizing the basic rights and freedoms of all Iranian people.

Although the main purpose of this charter was to inform citizens of their fundamental rights and freedoms in order to benefit from and promote the same, as is seen in the statement annexed to the Charter, which is an integral part, along with mainstreaming and building a multi-faceted dialogue for citizenship rights, the government is also taking practical steps to realize citizenship rights. This is possible only with the cooperation of all three branches of government, and the nation’s fundamental institutions.

Mention should be made of the fact that one of the political programs of the 12th administration, which was publicized during the last presidential campaign, is the implementation of the Citizens’ Rights Charter, which emphasizes that it requires executive agreements, and the fulfillment of the tasks of executive organs in relation to each clause in the charter and talks intended to garner cooperation from the other chief organs, and governing bodies.

In addition, one of the initiatives the president outlined at the beginning of the 12th administration was the publicizing of ministerial decrees. The third clause on public priorities, which is common to all the ministries, deals with the implementation of the Citizens’ Rights Charter, and the seventh clause outlines the necessity of utilizing the potential of women, the youth, and minorities in administrative jobs, thus, the next steps toward “measures and action” are taken.

As regards implementation of citizen’s rights and the monitoring thereof, having referred to the appointment of the Special Assistant to the President for supervision, coordination and supervision of the proper implementation of the commitments of the government, a plan and a policy with regard to the full implementation of the charter has been listed as the responsibility of the special assistant. Hence, the organs under the executive branch have to present a periodic annual report of their progress, challenges, obstacles and suggested solutions of their duties to enhance the implementation of citizen’s rights and taking action through institutional reform, toward the realization of the rights specified in the charter. Furthermore, the president is tasked to present an annual report on the progress and solutions to overcome obstacles hindering materialization of citizenship rights, and if need be, update the charter. 

Following the announcement of Dey 30, 1395 [January 19, 2017], the president unveiled the rights of citizens vis-vis individual branches of government, and their obligations in regard to the provision of a detailed executive program report (with the measured use of available capacities, both public and non-governmental, administrative, executive, educational, and legislative measures (writing draft bills and approvals) for their realization) by Esfand 10, 1395 [February 28, 2017]. On Esfand 25, 1395 [March 15, 2017] the president’s assistant at the time submitted to the summary of the reports (from the 25 organs involved) along with an analysis.

The report suggested the prioritization of issues concerning citizenship rights as needed by the society, and their implementation considering the capacities and resources available to the related bodies in the form of comprehensive and valuable plans, and also related challenges and actions toward the preparation of a comprehensive citizenship rights program and strengthening and anticipating preventive processes for violation of citizens’ rights, needed reforms and procedures and initiating preventive measures in this regard.

Citizenship rights were also approved in the administrative system on Bahman 9, 1395 [January 28, 2017] in 19 clauses by the Supreme Administrative Council and were, subsequently, announced to the executive bodies affected. Within this framework, the agreement on the development of the participation of NGOs in ensuring provision of citizens' rights in the administrative system was signed on Azar 30, 1396 [December 21, 2017] between the Ministry of Interior and the Administrative and Recruitment Affairs Organization, so that proper use can be made of the capacities of civil organization in the optimal implementation of citizenship rights.

The formation of the 12th government, heralded the activities and plans on the agenda in this area focusing on explanatory and promotional activities (at the national and provincial levels. It also outlined executive and operational measures. Once this process is stabilized by the actions of ministers and governors, a regime of coordinated follow-ups were devoted to designing the needed mechanisms, especially in the two parts of the inculcation and institutionalization of citizenship rights. These measures were taken into consideration in order to target the psychological structure of society in keeping with the same objective structures, which ultimately "formulate a program and policy for the full implementation of the Citizens' Rights Charter ", or in other words, the" National Action Plan ".

This will be achieved in short, medium and long term periods (up to the end of the 12th government’s term of office) and was placed on the agenda in order to be approved by the Cabinet of Ministers or approved by the President of the Republic. A parallel set of strategic studies and research are currently underway and is expected to be completed by the end of 1396, including:

- Compilation of quantitative and qualitative indicators for the monitoring and evaluation of the activities of all executive agencies in the field of civil rights.

- Developing a reporting mechanism based on the examination and enforcement of the Citizen's Rights Charter.

- Formulation of non-judicial ordinances and methods for dealing with complaints and protests related to the violation of citizenship rights.

- The development of a "Program for reforming and developing the legal system" for the implementation, guaranteeing and realization of citizenship rights in order to provide a specific program by each of the systems in their area of ​​responsibility.

- Preparation and compilation of a complete list of legal bills to enforce citizenship rights, including the establishment of a national human rights and citizenship institution that will investigate conflict of interests, civil liability of public institutions and economic transparency.

- Theoretical and applied research on the background, causes and factors of violations of citizenship rights and the most important systematic violations and corrective strategies, prevention, and implementation of citizenship rights in the country.

- Development and preparation of a comprehensive educational program - extension and capacity building of citizenship rights in the country.

- Formulating guidelines on how the government interacts and collaborates with civil society and governing bodies on the development of the culture of citizenship rights.

- Compilation and publication of "Public Education for Citizens' Rights" in simple to understand language for public dissemination in the country, use in public education, training instructors of citizenship rights, and teaching it in schools.

In addition, through correspondence with the Board of Ministers and governors throughout the country on Aban 29, 1396 [November 20, 2017] and Azar 5, 1396 [November 26, 2017], respectively, a request had been proposed to update, complete and modify the previous reports submitted and the named officials were obliged to report their actions, challenges, barriers, priorities and plans by Azar 20, 1396 [December 11, 2017]. The series of follow-ups indicate that, according to the president's view and insistence, the implementation of the Citizen’s Rights Charter must first and foremost start with the government of the state and its executive agencies should take the initial steps to realize these rights.

It should be noted that the written version of the first national report on "Advances and Solutions to the Removal of Barriers in the Realization of Citizenship Rights" will be published shortly and will be subject to arbitration and being critiqued by public opinion. This will be the basis for national dialogue on the subject.

Also, tracking cases of violations of citizen’s rights, which is highlighted on the agenda in this domain, should be added to these programs.

Important actions and other achievements in this area in recent months are as follows:

  • The implementation of the President's decree on transparency in declaring the amount of funding and allocation of the budget for institutions and executive agencies and how they are spent by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance from 1397.


  • The announcement of a joint meeting of the subsidiary organizations of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance in the provinces with the participation of parliamentarians, the private sector, economic experts,


  • Public organizations and guilds and regular visits of the provincial director's to that ministry and submission of its weekly report to the ministry.


  • An announcement to the entities subject to the Citizens' Rights Act in the administrative system regarding the prohibition of the installation of any threatening advertising and announcements to clients in administrative environments.


  • Establishing a national information monitoring system in order to provide information transparency and responsiveness to requests and to monitor key indicators in all sectors, especially in the area of economics.


  • Designing a virtual education system for government directors and staff in the field of civil rights in the administrative system in the Administrative and Recruitment Affairs Organization of Iran (ARAO).


  • The implementation of the presidential decree by the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology on solving students' [non-academic] misconduct [usually political or unionist] suspension problems.


  • Drafting the Charter of the Rights of Students, Faculty Members and Employees of the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology and Subsidiaries.


  • The implementation of the law on the dissemination and free access of information in a system by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, which has up to 100 governmental and non-governmental organizations that have responded.


  • In the pursuit of Citizen’s Rights, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (ICT) has banned the provision of uninterrupted SMS services to subscribers, and operators are required to stop sending mass SMS messages from their list of partially concealed numbers. 


  • In order to provide more and more taxpayers’ money and promote organization in dealing with taxpayers' fees, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance established a frequent direct tax law in all the departments of economic affairs and property in the provinces in accordance with Article 251.


  • Reinforcement of the Social Emergency Center by the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare to ensure Citizen’s Rights to address the problems of women, children and the injured elderly.


  • Developing safe shelters for women in all provinces to ensure the security of women's citizenship rights by the Welfare Organization.


  • The Telecommunication Company of Iran grants points to director suppliers who use women in their combination of boards of directors or CEOs.


  • Compiling a draft on the Conflict of Interest Project in Tehran Municipality


  • Announcing the approval of the Supreme Administrative Council and the presidential decree that the age of the country's governors be reduced by eight years by the end of the Sixth Development Plan and that 30% of the country's executives in the executive organs elected are to be women.


It is worth mentioning that the solutions to the implementation of the Citizen’s Rights Charter are, first of all, based on identifying the challenges that lie ahead. Since the plan of the draft charter was set, as well as in the past year (after its proclamation), the main hurdles were "the lack of a guarantee of implementation" or "a genuine desire to make it operational." This is of course a jaded one-sided look at "Citizen's Rights", yet this view from a macro perspective, is itself the most serious challenge that lies ahead.

The government, through its primary means in identifying, training, promoting, guaranteeing and protecting citizen’s rights, cannot carry out all that it wants to. Speaking of the challenges ahead, those facing the government (in the general sense), the cultural and historical impediments, and global elements can be discussed as well. From this perspective some aspects of the problems ahead are "indigenous" and are specific to each society and the power that governs that society, while other difficulties concern all societies in spite of the differences between them.

Coincident with this, a common problem impacting national governments and the global community is shaped by the perception that we harbor concerning the title "Citizenship." Understanding "citizenship" as "a right that is the foundation of other rights" is the first step to resolving some of our most pressing challenges. The historical and cultural backgrounds of human societies are alien to this new concept of the relationship between the state and the individual. What is meant by citizenship, what are its primary features, on what principles is it based and how does it differ from other forms of relationships between the state and the nation, will be key.

This change in the outlook of the relationship between the individual and the state is not solely the result of a change in the law or through the announcement of government directives or in a regulated top to bottom format. Legitimate changes must be accompanied by a series of programs, mainstreaming and discourses to bring society and the government to a common understanding of the very concept of "citizenship". More than anything the "Citizen’s Rights Charter" is aimed at "citizenship rights" being the central discourse in the community.

To realize this goal, the main approach of the government is to identify this concept by relying on religious concepts, to government officials and citizens themselves on the basis that citizenship is not just a degree or rank or a title for having rights and responsibilities. A citizen is not just a stakeholder who merely receives a range of services; a citizen is a participant in all affairs that must be so empowered as to have a high impact on society.

Rather than citizenship only being the basis for having rights, it is primarily an axis for being an activist and demanding rights. In this approach, citizens are not passive, but exist in a synergistic relationship of communication with the government and other institutions. In this way they will be able to play a key role in their individual development and in the development of the intergenerational community by relying on the support of the legal system and cultural norms.

To achieve such an understanding of "Citizenship", it is imperative that, in addition to legal changes and the formation and identification of a series of new rules, a series of informal discourses, social and cultural beliefs and practices will also undergo a fundamental transformation. In attaining this level of "citizenship", it is mandatory that, in addition to legal changes and the formation and identification of a series of new rules, a series of informal dialogues, social and cultural beliefs and practices also undergo a fundamental transformation. This reform in attitude must take place both within the power and within the community and in the relations between citizens. Such a goal can only exist in the context of a "national dialogue and consensus" between sovereignty and the community and the elite that seeks to make "citizenship" and "related rights" a public demand.

Parallel to all the obstacles and challenges which arise in the realization of citizen’s rights and the implementation of the Citizen’s Rights Charter, the unique opportunities and resources that present themselves to attain this goal in our present circumstances should not be disregarded. Demand, awareness and the unmatched accountability of the people in this period of history is but one key e to success. There is also the determination of the President to implement the constitution and to affirm and promote the nation’s rights, plus the emphasis of all authorities in the government for enforcing the law.  The way has already been paved for providing the required background in the 11th government for implementation of operational plans, in addition to the moderate approach now governing the legislature to act in concord with the government. We also benefit from the wide-ranging intellectual output of the academic and seminary circles, plus the practical experiences and different initiatives that have been executed in the Islamic Republic of Iran over the past four decades.

All of this has allowed creation of a still evolving infrastructure to promote people’s right in various areas, empower expert, experienced and conscious human resources in different areas of civil rights. The formulation of the rules of the Sixth Development Plan which will serve as the foundation of the development of the country within the next five years and the promising attitude of women and ethnic and religious minorities to the moderate decisions of the 12th government to meet their legitimate demands. The government's approach to sustaining the country's comprehensive development and logical engagement with the world, and the still growing balanced movement away from confrontation and towards coordination in encountering all aspects of the country's affairs.

We have also witnessed the coordination of the authorities of the capital city with the government as a model for other provinces. Finally, we now have the existence of organized critics combined with diverse and powerful information tools that will monitor the remaining imbalances in keeping track of weaknesses and gaps. All of this will facilitate the process of specialized and scholarly efforts to promote and realize citizenship rights.

With the advent of executive agencies in pursuit and presentation of the report of action, everyone will believe that citizen’s rights are not mere words, or an imported concept (as some contend). Neither is it simply decorative slogans as some others say. This charter recalls the tactful and recognized rights of the Iranian people in the constitution and, at the same time, the demands of the people over the past century and the responsibility of the pillars of governance in this arena; a prerequisite that can contribute to the sustainable and comprehensive development of Iran.

Thank you for your attention.


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