degradation. 7 8 There is no readily available information indicating the number of complaints
received by the mechanism and whether they have been addressed.
The Khuzestan province is located in southwestern Iran and is predominantly inhabited by
ethnic Arabs.9 In recent years the World Health Organizations has listed the city of Ahvaz,
located in Khuzestan Province as one of the most polluted in the world. 10 According to a
number of specialists and environmentalists, the high levels of pollution in Khuzestan are
linked to the government’s policies of river diversion, dam constructions and drying marshes
for oil exploitation.11 12 Added to the pollution, the U.N. Secretary General (UNSG) has
raised concerns about the increasing impact of the water crisis on the right to health in the
Islamic Republic of Iran.13 In his report, the UNSG noted that the Islamic Republic of Iran is
among the top five countries using untreated sewage for the irrigation of agricultural land,
which not only destroy plantations14 but also generates the spread of contagious diseases.15
Untreated wastewater has been increasingly contaminating drinking water, while less than
40% of Iranians reportedly have access to proper wastewater treatment facilities. 16 The
situation is even more acute in the province of Khuzestan, where there is reportedly only one
wastewater treatment facility for the whole city of Ahvaz (estimated population of 1.3
million) and most of the city’s wastewater is discharged in the Karoon river, a main source for
farming.17 The UNSG noted in 2019 that the inefficiencies in water management in the
Islamic Republic of Iran have exacerbated health issues caused by air pollution and dust
storms and causing many Ahvaz residents to suffer from various medical conditions. 18 19
The Islamic Republic of Iran has been diverting water from the Arab-majority Khuzestan
province, to the central plateau of the country for years, reportedly to ensure the development
of the cities such as Isfahan, Qom, Yazd and Kerman. 20 Despite objections from
environmentalists and water management experts, the President of Iran Hassan Rouhani

7

Department of Environment, Islamic Republic of Iran https://bit.ly/3afg3Fw
Department of Environment, Islamic Republic of Iran https://bit.ly/3jGt9ij
9
Minority Rights Group, https://minorityrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Rights-Denied-Violations-against-ethnicand-religious-minorities-in-Iran.pdf
10
See www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15109116 www.who.int/phe/health_topics/outdoorair/databases/cities2011/en/ and http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/741891483046725613/pdf/111462-WP-P162048- PUBLICIranEcoMonitor-12-22-2016.pdf.
11
Brett, D., ‘Dams: Iran’s weapons of marsh destruction,’ Huffington Post, 13 June 2014 and The Guardian, ‘How Iran’s
Khuzestan went from wetland to wasteland’, 16 April 2015
12
See The Guardian, www.theguardian.com/world/iran-blog/2015/apr/16/iran-khuzestan-environment-wetlandsdustpollution
13
Report of the Secretary General on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, February 2019,
https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G19/028/77/PDF/G1902877.pdf?OpenElement
14
The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/iran-blog/2015/apr/16/iran-khuzestan-environment-wetlands-dustpollution
15
See Atlantic Council, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/in-depth-research-reports/issue-brief/environmental-and-wildlifedegradation-in-iran/
16
See Atlantic Council, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/in-depth-research-reports/issue-brief/environmental-and-wildlifedegradation-in-iran/
17
Eghtesad, https://www.en.eghtesadonline.com/Section-energy-70/32556-poor-wastewater-infrastructure-taking-toll-onkaroun-river
18
Report of the Secretary General on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, February 2019,
https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G19/028/77/PDF/G1902877.pdf?OpenElement
19
US National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6108243/#R22
20
UNPO, https://unpo.org/article/20921
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