UNITED NATIONS — The UN General Assembly has approved a resolution criticizing Iran for serious rights violations including torture and its “alarming” and frequent use of the death penalty.
The vote Wednesday was 86 to 36, with 61 countries abstaining.
The resolution also welcomed pledges by Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, on some important human rights issues such as eliminating discrimination against women and members of ethnic minorities.
But it criticizes Iran’s use of “inhuman” punishments, including flogging and amputations, and its use of the death penalty against young people under age 18.
General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding.
The General Assembly also approved a resolution on Wednesday expressing outrage at “widespread and systematic gross violations” by Syrian authorities.
The resolution, initiated by Saudi Arabia on behalf of dozens of states including the US, is one of the strongest criticisms yet of the regime of President Bashar Assad. It also expresses “grave concern at the spread of extremism and extremist groups” in Syria.
The resolution, approved 127 to 13, with 47 countries abstaining, is not legally binding, but it’s a strong expression of world opinion on the conflict in Syria, where fighting between the government and opposition has left more than 100,000 dead.
The UN Security Council, whose resolutions are legally binding, has been largely stalled on taking strong action on Syria because of vetoes from Russia, the country’s top ally.
The Syrian ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari, called the General Assembly resolution “outrageously hostile.”
Ja’afari also criticized Saudi Arabia, which backs the rebels and has strongly criticized the Security Council’s failure to resolve Syria’s civil war, as a supporter of terrorists “throughout the world.”
The British mission to the UN called the vote a “strong result.”
The resolution condemns the use of chemical weapons in Syria and “strongly points” to their use by the Syrian government in an Aug. 21 poison gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.
It also notes that the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference have held the Syrian government “fully responsible” for the Ghouta attacks, and calls on the Security Council to take “the necessary measures against all those responsible for the chemical weapons attack” to ensure accountability.
The resolution demands an end to all human rights abuses, the immediate release of all detainees and immediate steps by the Syrian government to expand humanitarian relief operations.