UN Development Chief Visits Iran; addresses United Nations Day Celebration in Tehran
The head of the UN Development Group has wrapped up a three-day visit to Iran, saying that the country has made impressive human development progress, but that development challenges remained.
"In education, health, and income per capita, as measured in the annual Human Development Index, Iran has done well and ranks as a high human development country", Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme said today.
In her address to the United Nations Day celebration in Teheran, Helen Clark noted that youth unemployment, the impact of environmental degradation and climate change, and ongoing inequalities, including between rich and poor, would need continued attention.
“While more Iranians than ever before are receiving higher education, often they cannot find jobs when they graduate,” she said. "For Iran to reap a full demographic dividend from its large youth population, this issue needs to be addressed."
She also noted that despite the remarkable progress made on improving girls’ education and reducing maternal mortality, the participation of women in the paid work force and the representation of women in senior decision-making remain low.
"I believe – from personal experience – that a critical mass of women's voices in senior decision-making positions is required for women’s perspectives to be fully incorporated and needs prioritised in national agendas”, Helen Clark said.
During her visit, Helen Clark met senior Iranian ministers and officials, including Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Head of the Environmental Protection Organisation, Masoumeh Ebtekar; Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli; Minister of Co-operatives, Labour, and Welfare Ali Rabiee; and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, lead negotiator for the nuclear talks.
In Helen Clark’s meetings Iran’s development priorities, including the environmental challenges it faces, were discussed, as was the impact of sanctions on the availability of certain medicines. The latter issue was also highlighted when Helen Clark traveled to Shiraz to visit an HIV clinic supported by funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDs, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, where she was told that a scarcity of needed medicines is affecting the treatment regimes which can be administered.
“The availability of life-saving medicine is a humanitarian issue. Thus it is important that sanctions not have unintended spillover effects on that availability,” Helen Clark said. “The UN Secretary General has also expressed concern at reports that there may be such impacts. Agencies in the UN development system will work to help find solutions.
When asked about the status of the ongoing Iran nuclear negotiations, Helen Clark said she hoped the talks would succeed noting that a positive outcome would be very helpful for Iran’s future development.