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Iran's Contributions to Human Rights, the Rights of Women and Democracy

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image of Iran and the Caucasus

Most scholars generally pre-suppose that the concept of democracy is the exclusive creation of classical Greece and a token of the West to the rest of the world. This concept has originated mainly due to the fact that much of the ancient Iranian history was only known through classical Greek writings before the ever-increasing archaeological finds and decipherments of ancient Near Eastern primary sources, which have shed a very different light on the subject.

This paper attempts to alleviate and restore a few of the more vital recurring misunderstandings, misinterpretations and misconceptions in this field, and endeavours to present them in a more realistic historic and historiographic perspective in the light of the latest available scholarship.

Beginning in 2200 B.C. Old Elamite Kingdom, was the first manifestation in the world of a structured and, at times, democratically elected heads of state based on matriarchal right of descent. Beginning in Elam and continuing at least to the beginning of the Islamic period, no ancient peoples, including the Greeks and the Egyptians, have surpassed the practice of the rights of women, and the equality of men and women as in Iran. In early 7th century B.C. Iran, the pronouncement by Zoroaster, through Avestan literature, was the first manifestation of the rights of women and unequivocal equality of gender in all aspects and positions of society. In the second part of the 7th century B.C. Media, we encounter the ratification by popular vote of the first constitution for a democratically elected confederated empire, headed by Dioces, who was the first recorded popularly elected emperor. In 539 B.C., we come upon the declaration of the first generally accepted Charter of Rights of Nations by Cyrus the Great. In 522-486 B.C., in the reign of Darius the Great, appeared the first confirmation of a written entrenched democratic constitution. In the 4th century A.D. (or earlier) Sasanian Iran, the first appearance of an advanced system of Common Law based on well-documented jurisprudence was materialised. And finally, the confederated system of government in Iran, which survived the vicissitudes of history and changes of several dynasties, remained in force one way or the other to become the most enduring system of government in world history spanning a period of two-and-half millennia.

Affiliations: 1: Arya International University, Yerevan


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