In 2010, the Islamic Republic of Iran made 126 promises to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to improve the human rights situation in the country and comport with the UN’s internationally-accepted norms. However, after four years of ongoing violations—including the harassment of journalists, detainment of religious rights activists and widespread use of torture—several defenders of human rights turned to CLS Strategies for help raising international attention and pressure on Iran’s government to keep its promises.
CLS Strategies launched Impact Iran, a coalition of organizations dedicated to human rights, to raise awareness of Iran’s broken promises and UN procedures and processes that every member state is expected to respect. Part of this work promoted reports by Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the appointed Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The coalition’s digital campaign utilized various tools and platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Google search engine marketing, YouTube and Buzzfeed, to reach and engage the media and members of the diplomatic community in New York and Geneva, as well as the broader public, about Iran’s dismal track record of protecting the rights of its people.
In October 2014, Iran returned to the UNHRC to report on its commitments made four years prior. In the lead-up to this important milestone, CLS Strategies crafted a comprehensive months-long multimedia strategy that incorporated video content, social media graphics, weekly email blasts and an interactive microsite to convey the harsh reality of many Iranians’ experiences of repression, harassment, detainment and torture. The “Twitter storm” around Iran’s human rights review at the UN resulted in more than 46,000 tweets, making it by far the most-tweeted review of the UN’s session. Additionally, the #UPRIran hashtag promoted in Impact Iran’s “Promises made, Promises Broken” video series—which featured nine persecuted Iranians as well as Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi—was tweeted over 14,000 times. Through these campaigns, Impact Iran ensured that the international community remained engaged in improving human rights in Iran and that the story of Iran’s broken human rights promises was injected into social media conversations and media coverage the world over.