What do the FIFA World Cup and the killing of a woman under custody of the Iranian morality police have in common? They’ve both brought a spotlight to the human rights situation in the Middle East and, once again, mobilized an international movement demanding respect for human rights and action to be taken.
Qatar, after spending a ridiculous amount of money organising the most expensive tournament in history, is especially irate seeing what they expected to be a massive PR campaign, turned into a scandal. This small but highly influential Gulf country is facing two main criticisms: the ill-treatment of vulnerable migrant workers, where it’s estimated that 6500 workers died since the tournament was awarded to them a decade ago, as well as countless cases of abuse and rights violations in a country that’s not far from an absolute autocracy. The second front focuses on the country’s backward laws on LGBT+ rights and the ill treatment of members of the community, which was particularly highlighted as LGBT football fans would make their way to a country that considers their identity to be unlawful.
In Iran, the killing of Mahsa Amini – a Kurdish woman who was killed while under custody of the Iranian “morality police – triggered a massive wave of protests all over the country, which faced a forceful response from the Iranian authorities, resulting in thousands of arrests and dozens killed, mostly in the majority Kurdish cities of Iran. This event also unleashed yet another global movement led by Iranian women both inside Iran and abroad, demanding an end to the oppressive policies against women in the theocratic country.
In both cases, an already mobilized West since the beginning of Russia’s invasion to Ukraine, took the lead and pushed not just for condemnation and for spotlighting these issues, but has also taken concrete action at the international level. At Vision 360 Diplomacy, we are observing these collection of events as part of a larger pattern that human rights activists should make the most of. As Iran was, for the first time, the subject of a special-session of the UN Human Rights Council special session called by the EU, which resulted in the creation of a fact-finding mission into the events surrounding the protests and the killing of Mahsa Amini. This also builds on the push for accountability that allowed the establishment and renewal of other investigative mechanisms into the situations in Russia and Venezuela.
As for Qatar, and in spite of FIFA’s attempt to defend the host country and to mitigate the talk about human rights and focus only on football, Western countries pushed forward regardless, especially after participating countries like Denmark and Germany strong pushback from FIFA for attempting to manifest their views on the issues. This resulted in the EU taking concrete action establishing a relief fund for Qatar’s migrant workers, which aknlowledges the violations, and sets a path for continued pressure on the Gulf State.
The world of diplomacy remains incredibly active and opportunities to push for advances in human rights and accountability continue to arise. At Vision 360 can help you acquire the skills and tools you need to make the most of these chances, to identify where the opportunities are and to bring about the change you want to see.