Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor


The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities to promote democracy and human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. For background on Iran's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at

Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The United States has not maintained diplomatic relations with Iran for the past three decades. In multilateral fora and through public statements, the United States urges the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect the human rights of its citizens, draws attention to the country's human rights abuses, and encourages the government to uphold its human rights obligations in law and in practice, including its obligations under the international human rights conventions to which it is a party.

Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

The United States communicates human rights concerns about individual political prisoners to the government via the Swiss Protecting Power in Tehran and releases press statements highlighting the abuses of individuals or groups by the government. The United States supports access to information and adherence to human rights standards via Voice of America radio and television broadcasts. The Persian-language version of the Department's Web site also supports free access to information, posts articles about American society and values, and carries translations of U.S. reports about Iran that focus on human rights abuses, international religious freedom, and trafficking in persons. U.S. government-supported Persian-language bloggers engage Iranians online and answer their questions about U.S. policy and society. The United States also funds Radio Farda, a Persian-language radio station broadcasting to Iran from offices in Prague and Washington, D.C.

For the seventh year in a row, the United States co-sponsored and actively supported a UN General Assembly Third Committee resolution addressing the Iranian human rights situation. The United States regularly raises concerns about the government's poor human rights record in consultations with other governments, urging them to raise these concerns during any formal human rights dialogue or other bilateral contact with the Iranian government. At the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review in February 2010, the United States called attention to the lack of due process, arbitrary arrests and detentions, use of torture and closure of newspapers in the country.

Since 2004 the United States has obligated funds for a wide range of programs, similar in scope to those in other countries around the world, to support civil society, human rights, and the rule of law in Iran. We are implementing programming, consistent with the VOICE Act, to support Internet freedom, independent media, and the free flow of information in Iran. Our programming includes support for new media tools that increase the availability of objective information on Iranian politics and current events and for online courses and podcasts that support journalists, bloggers, NGOs, and academics. The U.S. Government does not fund Iranian political parties or factions.

Finally, U.S. officials regularly meet with Iranians who have suffered abuse or with their representatives outside the country. We document these incidents for dissemination to other governments and for inclusion in the annual U.S. reports on human rights practices and on religious freedom. Every year since 1999 the U.S. Secretary of State has designated Iran a “Country of Particular Concern” for severe violations of religious freedom.

Since 2006 the Secretary of State has designated Iran a Tier 3 country in the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons Report, indicating that it does not comply with minimum standards for elimination of trafficking, nor is it making significant efforts to do so.