Regarding the March 27 editorial “The U.N.’s human ‘rights’ council”:

The Obama administration should be commended for successfully getting the U.N. Human Rights Council to establish an independent monitor to investigate and call international attention to human rights abuses in Iran. The Iranian government’s actions demonstrate that The Post was wrong to dismiss this achievement as unimportant. Iran fought furiously against the council’s action. Even Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad personally lobbied other heads of state to vote against the resolution.

As Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Suzanne Nossel said at the National Iranian American Council’s recent human rights conference, an international rights monitor “carries the imprimatur of the entire international community, and in this case would deliver information and messages that would be difficult for Tehran to dismiss or counter.” In fact, a recent study by the Brookings Institution found that human rights monitors are “one of the most effective tools of the international human rights system.”

An independent human rights monitor can provide greater transparency and protect victims by focusing international attention and scrutiny on the Iranian government’s abuses. The Post should not take that so lightly.

David Elliott, Washington

The writer is assistant policy director of the National Iranian American Council.

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The contention that the Obama administration is wasting its time at the U.N. Human Rights Council will come as a surprise to human rights defenders in Ivory Coast and Libya. The editorial neglected to mention that the council recently established commissions of inquiry for both countries, a crucial step toward bringing those responsible for horrific abuses to justice.

The council continues to have significant flaws, including its disproportionate focus on Israel, but that is no reason to ignore its impact elsewhere. The council has made substantial progress since the United States joined two years ago, investigating and taking action not only regarding Iran, as the editorial mentioned, but also North Korea, Burma and Guinea. If the council didn’t make a difference, human rights abusers such as Iran, Cuba and China wouldn’t devote so much time to trying to undermine it. If they think it’s worth the fight, so should the United States.

Kenneth Roth, New York

The writer is executive director of Human Rights Watch.

Dear Mr. White,

Yes, I’m the author. It’s in my name. And I haven’t submitted it or anything similar anyplace else.

I presume that you’ll run any edits by me before publication, but one change I’d like to make: could you please substitute “Saudi Arabia” for “Afghanistan” where it’s mentioned.

Many thanks,


Kenneth Roth, 212-216-1801 With thanks and best wishes, Emma

Emma Daly Communications Director Human Rights Watch +1-212-216-1835 (office) +1-212-380-7023 (mobile),


I can confirm that the letter meets each of these conditions, and is exclusive to the Washington Post. I have copied David on this note, if you need further clarification.

Do you have an expected date when the letter will be running?

All the best,



Hi John,

Thank you for your email. I can also confirm I am the author, I am using my real name, and that the letter is exclusive to the Washington Post. Feel free to call me -- my direct line is 202-379-1614 and my cell is 202-290-8309.


- David

David Elliott

Assistant Policy Director


National Iranian American Council

1411 K Street NW, Suite 600

Washington, DC 20005