Irans environmental and cultural heritage in the common human rights foundatio

»Irans environmental  and  cultural heritage in the common human rights foundation«      

 By:Lawyer  Seyed Mohammad Zaman Daryabari[1]



This report has been compiled by Lawyer  Seyed Mohammad Zaman Daryabari chairman of  the  Hamian-e- Tabiate Pak Institute’s Board, by observation, library study and on the basis of data analysis. The report illustrates the challenges and threats against the Iranian environment and the cultural and natural heritage of Iran  which result in gaps appearing between these two and the foundation of human rights (as one of the most important concerns of the Institute) with a new approach. The first declaration of human rights which is claimed to be the Cyrus Cylinder, an ancient clay cylinder, in Akkadian cuneiform script issued by Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid Dynasty[2], seems to be a clear evidence of the bright history of human rights in nowadays Iran. And, now , Iran is considered to be one of the active countries in ratifying international treaties such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Cultural and Historical Heritage Convention, as well as in   ratification of useful national laws with a limited implementation capacity. But these laws  could prevent  major problems such as

  • The Red Tide phenomenon, also known as an algal bloom (large concentrations of  aquatic microorganisms), in the Persian Gulf,
  • Illegal constructions close to historical sites such as Hakīm Abu'l-Qāsim Ferdowsī

     Tūsī’s Tomb in Tūs,

  • The UNESCO World Heritage Site Naghsh-e Jahan Square (Maidān-e Naqsh-e  Jahān) in Esfahān,
  • The destructive effects of sandstorms from Iraq.
  • And executive shortfalls and vacuums within domestic and international


This can be achieved by accurately implementing the relevant laws as well as eliminating legal vaccums by regulate new laws.

All of us in one form or another regardless of race, religion or nationality in different countries have our fates tied to each other. Therefore the challenges that are being faced do not have geographical boundaries, and the world is responsible in this regard. Indifference, silence and any form of political preferences of the international community instead of solving the problem, is a human rights violation. It seems the establishment of a nongovernmental organization supreme council, establishment of regional friendship committee and the ratification of international treaties and emphasis on the role of institutions and mass media, education and information dissemination are constructive solutions in this regard so as to establish a union between the environment and cultural heritage within a common human rights foundation.



 Institute Introduction

The Supporters of Clean Environment Institute is a nongovernmental, non-political and non-profit institute with the aim of protecting the environment, the continuation of life for future generation and with an emphasis on the rightful principle of sustainable development. Following is the receipt of official permit from the Environmental Organization of Iran –Sazman-e- Mohit-e- Zist-e-Iran-  on September 8th 2002 under registration No. 32/14468 the Institute was registered at the Companies and Non-commercial Institutes Registration Bureau. While participating in the education course on “How Consultative Status is Acquired from the UN” the Institute has been pursuing objectives that include efforts to improve the health, hygiene and rights of citizens, organizing environmental projects with an emphasis on the principle of sustainable development. This can be achieved by participating in conferences, holding education workshops, using of new information dissemination methods with regards to environmental crises and also the conducting of fundamental and practical researches on human rights, the environment, natural and cultural and moral heritage to reach common cross sectional constructive methods. To protect the rights of future generations, the Institute has worked hard by filing complaints, realisation and defence of the rights of NGOs in courts .


A number of methods have been used in the compilation of this report. Some of the data has been conducted by eye-witness method with echo-tourism. A number of national heritage sites such as the Persian Gulf, Lake Urumia[3] (Daryache-ye Orumiye), the Tomb of Cyrus the Great (Kurosch-e Bozorg), Ferdosi’s Tomb[4], Naghsh-e Jahan Square (Maidān-e Naqsh-e Jahān) of Esfahān, have been studied. Also interviews with knowledgeable individuals, library study, and monitoring media for domestic and international laws have been used in this regard. Then, the data has been reviewed and analysed.

     Legal backgrounds and infrastructure

The Cyrus Cylinder in the understanding of a Historical human rights document stresses  racial and religious tolerance, abolition of slavery, prohibition of the destruction of temples and buildings, and the teachings of Zoroaster regarding the protection of the four elements of earth, wind, fire and water. The first laws ratified by the Iranian parliament deals with the new generation of human rights stipulated in the law on the protection of national heritage, ratified in November 1930.

     The existence of constructive laws such as the one which allows Iran to join the Convention on the Protection of Cultural and Natural heritage [5] (ratified by the Iranian Senate in 1975), the Prevention of Illegal Drilling legislation (May 18th 1979) and also Art. 558[6]through 569 of the Islamic Penal Code of iran which guarantees legal action for the aforementioned actions alongside with things such as trafficking of goods, violation of historical and religious mounds, hills and buildings; are pleasing according to Art. 558   »Anyone who inflicts damage to all  or part of relegius ,cultural,or historial sites and buildings registered in Irans Nationnal works list,is sentenced to one to ten  years in prison,and must conpensate the damage«

  Moreover, according to Art. 727 of the Islamic Penal Code of Iran , these crimes are forgivable and thus unless there is private plaintiff these crimes cannot be brought to justice. It must be said that Art. 83 of the Constitution cod  of iran [7]

 (Government buildings and properties from the National Exquisite not be transferred Unless with the approval of Parliament  if  it is not unique if the Exquisite)

 and according to Art. 26 of the Iranian Civil Code Article 26»-Government property which is subject to public service and welfare such as fortifications, fortresses, moats, military earthworks, arsenals, weapons, stores, warships and similarly the furniture and buildings of the Government buildings and telegraph wires, museums, public libraries, historical monuments and similar objects, in brief whatever property movable or immovable is in use by the Government for the service of the .public or the profit of the state, may not privately be owned. And the same provisions shall apply to property which shall have been appropriated for the public service of a province, city or a region or a town.[8]

 also insist on the protection of moral heritage and underground water [9].

     Current situation

Just as the right of mankind to healthy environment and cultural, natural and moral heritage, solidarity rights are considered as the Third Generation of Human Rights which are rarely discussed The advocacy of access to healthy environment that include plants and forests, sea and land creatures, and campaign against air, land and sea pollutants, and also inert environment such as mountains, seas, wetlands, caves, and other manmade and natural structures. Current and future generations’ need to live in a environmentally- protected biosphere through human rights principles that are......”. In doing so, the preservation of cultural and natural heritage is necessarily linked to the environmental concern because...... In this concern, historical defined cultural and natural heritage and future-oriented environmental protection safeguards the sustainibility. The UNESCO Constitution’s preamble states in this context.

“[…] the wide diffusion of culture, and the education of humanity for justice and liberty and peace are indispensable to the dignity of man and constitute a sacred duty which all the nations must fulfil in a spirit of mutual assistance and concern”. This article stresses on these aspects of human rights and reviews examples of challenges of the past four years such as the Red Tide of the Persian Gulf, coastal pollution of the Caspian Sea, destruction of wetlands, and destruction of the Lavizan Forest, destruction of cultural and natural monuments.

In light of these aspects the contribution at hand illustrates examples of challenges of the past four years such as the aforementioned Red Tide phenomenon, coastal pollution of the Caspian Sea, destruction of wetlands, and destruction of the Lavizān Forest as well as the destruction of cultural and natural monuments.

     1 The Red Tide Phenomenon in the Persian Gulf

As mentioned above, the Persian Gulf has witnessed large concentrations of aquatic microorganisms, an event in which marine or fresh water algae accumulate rapidly in the water, described as the Red Tide. This situation has exited for 30 million years and has been referred to in a tablet belonging to Darius the Great’s[10] time in the Persia Gulf, and later.Also, during the the whole Islamic periods  geographical books have mentioned this unpleasant smelling phenomenon. An unprecedented occurrence of this natural phenomenon in 2008 resulted in the death of vast fish-stocks, marine mammals and marine biology in an area of 2 kilometres of the coast.  The conclusion of a conference held in Persian Gulf countries in February 2012, was to prevent this phenomenon

     As the only Persian Gulf country that has ratified the Convention on Oil Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (1990), Iran may play a key role in this specific regard. The Seas Laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman stipulates that the polluting the marine environment for the passage of foreign floating vessels contrary to the laws of the country are pursuable by the civil and criminal codes[11]. according to Article 6 of the Maritime Zones of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman .11 

»Terms of innocent passage: Passage of foreign vessels to engage in any of the following actions will not be considered innocent, and the case will be subject to civil and criminal provisions:

- transportation of people, goods and money by loading or unloading of any kind against the rules and regulations of the Islamic Republic of Iran
 «.- causing any pollution of the marine environment against Islamic rule......

 This is within the framework of  the Seas and Bordering Rivers Protection from Oil Pollution Law, ratified by the Iranian Parliament (Mağlese Shurāye Eslāmi). Also prison sentences, and cash fines have been foreseen for polluters which can be useful and preventive measures[12]

     2 Pollution of the Caspian Sea Coast

The coastal ecosystems of the planet are diverse in living habitats. Unfortunately the coastline of the Caspian Sea, 50% of which belonged to Iran since 1921 is faced with a huge volume of industrial urban and rural waste[13]. The post-Soviet countries that had a 50% of share of the Caspian Sea currently claim the Caspian exceed even the original 50%. By emitting chemical and industrial pollutants, these countries cause serious damage to animal and plant life of the coastline. By joining the Convention on the Prevention of Pollution of the Seas and the Convention Civil Responsibility for Oil Pollution, Iran has taken useful measures by using a legal vessel to confront pollutants. The application of domestic laws such as the Protection and Development of Aquatic Resources of the Islamic Republic of Iran will further help eliminate this crisis.[14]

3 Environmental crisises on wetlands and the effects on the migrating wildlife species

In view of its membership in the Ramsar Conference (1971), Iran may play a very important role in the protection of wetlands, places where migrating wildlife exists such as gulls, wild swans, cranes, carp fish, turtles, planktons, birds of prey such as falcons. Unfortunately, due to the lack of the necessary redress, unique wetlands such as Shadgan, Anzali, Miankaleh and Hamun are seriously threatened by human and industrial pollution that is by wastage and/or oil. The drying up of the most beautiful sweetwater lake in the world, Lake Parishan which is in Fars Provinc  and hosts seldom occurring species in wildlife, is due to fires, 277 illegal water wells, water suction pumps The reasons have been stated on July 11th 2009 in official Iranian news agencies. The announcement of the drying up of Bakhtegan wetlands, known as Daryātsche-ye Bachtegān, a few days later, was another serious ecological setback. All these environmental crises took place while the prevention of environmental disasters and the loss of wildlife can take place by preventing human and industrial waste from entering these wetlands, by applying cautious methods.

     4 Factors that threaten the moral heritage

Cultural heritage (such as the play arts), and social customs (such as the Norūz Festival2, the Jashn-e Mehregān (Mehregan Festival)3, Shab-e Yaldā,4 Chhārshanbe-Sūrī5,  and other national and traditional festivals  have been neglected over the last few years. There have been some restrictions on one hand, and some changes have been made in the appearance of national festivals such as Chhārshanbe-Sūrī, which has lost its traditional historical cultural sense and which has turned into a night of massive noise emission by the extensive usage of firecrackers. Government’s indifference to the Jashn-e Mehregān customs6, The Ğashn-e Sadeh (Sadeh Festival)7, has made foreign custom behaviors  such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween, popular.

 This reason of indifference should be explained by government officials.

On the other hand some renowned Iranian intellectuals such as Molana[15] and Roudaki[16] have been given non-Iranian birth certificates. This is while the universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity ratified in 2006, and the guarding of heritage in all its forms and its growth and maturity has brought about the basis for dialogue among civilizations and insists on an approach towards the future generation. And by referring to the point that cultural rights are part of the whole of the human rights framework, domestic and international cooperation of governments and nongovernmental organizations deem to have better influence in moving forward with common ideals.

     5 Dust storm originated in Iraq, July 2009

In July 2009, the Iranian capital Tehrān‎ came to a standstill for almost a week due to dust storm that originated from the neighbouring Iraq.[17] This dust storm resulted led to hospitalization and death of  many  of people in the capital. The exact information  has not been made public. This effect of an natural force was as a direct result of Iran’s neighbours neglecting international obligations towards environmental protection as stipulated in international law[18]. Principle 21 of the Stockholm Declaration (1972) states that “States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.” 

     6 The destruction of Lavizān Forest

According to the protection and expansion of green environment in Iran legislation, the municipalities are responsible for the protection of urban green environments that include woods parks, gardens, and trees on sides of streets. However, in the winter of 2005, over 8000 trees were felled in Tehran’s Lavizān Forest by the municipality for the construction of an expressway, which resulted in the first complaint being filed by environmental and sustainable development NGOs against the municipality in the history of Iran.[19]

     7 Other cultural, natural and historical heritage challenges

These challenges include:

  • The loss of a major part of the historical Balaghi Pass, and also the possible

destruction of national and world Pasargad Monument and the Tomb of Cyrus the Great, the Achamenid Dynasty king who issued the first Universal Declaration of Human Rights 25 centuries ago, all due to the construction of Seyvand Dam.

  • An attack of linchens and toxic gases on the ruins of Takht-eh-Jamshid

(Persepolis) and the gradual destruction of the columns of this historical monument.

  • Improper care of the Shireh Sangi (Stone Lion), a monument from the Madd

     Dynasty in Hamadan.

  • The threat against the Nagshejahan Square in Isfahan due to  construction of the underground railway system near Jahan Nama Tower and Chargagh.
  • The destructive effects of railway tracks laying work in the vicinity of the

     historical Naghshe Rostam Monument.

  • The gradual erosion of the historical Shoosh Hills.
  • The sad fate of Shahreray’s Gabri Fort, which has turned into an iron warehouse,

     and the terrible conditions of Fort Iraj (Dejeh Varna) in Varamin.

  • Gradual drying up of Lake Urumieh.
  • The destruction of the 3000 year old Khark Tablet due to the neglect of relevant


  • Violation of the Mount Damavand natural environment by construction of an

     asphalt road on its foothills.

The government justifies the move by saying e the project helps facilitate the transportation in the region.

  Suggested solutions

Given the existence of legal vacuums as well as governments’ fear of increased capacities of NGOs, developing government’s sensitivities towards these institutions, and problems resulted from the coming together of NGOs slogans, the following solutions over a span of 4 years can be constructive:

  • The formation of an international council made up of nongovernmental

organizations and regional committees under the Human Rights Council, for the purpose of constructive cooperation among the members and acceptance of the right of NGOs to seek justice in international courts.

  • The preparation of the necessary basis for the allocation of specific annual budgets for education and expansion of the Third Generation of Human Rights.

This can be achieved by government proposal and subsequent parliaments approval.

  • The drafting of development programmes for the protection of the environment,

and cultural, historical and moral heritage.

  • Application of new technical, financial and administrative methods with the

utilisation of the learnt materials of pioneering countries.

  • Face to face, no holds barred information dissemination and fundamental

education of th

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