The case of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Deserving membership

The criteria

When adapting the theoretical framework of Rawls, two points are noteworthy: firstly, the law of peoples can go beyond a liberal idea of justice and, secondly, according to set criteria, a country like Iran can be considered a decent nation. Decent nations enjoy the following characteristics. Firstly, they are not aggressors and achieve their legal goals through diplomacy, trade and other peaceful means. Secondly, three points need to be considered. (A) The legal system of this people guarantees human rights for all members of the community of nations (including the rights to life, security and liberation from slavery and forced labour, freedom of conscience and private property). In this sense, human rights cannot be rejected on the grounds that it is a Western idea. (B) The legal system of a decent nation imposes benevolent obligations and duties (apart from human rights) on all those who live within its territory. Those people are capable of learning and of moral perfection and know the difference between right and wrong according to their local culture. (C) Judges and other judicial officials should honestly believe that the law is based on a common idea of justice (Rawls, 1999, p. 32). All these criteria exist in the Iranian Constitution and the teachings of Islam. For example, Islam has forbidden all forms of violence (Alikhani, 2007).

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