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Background to Peaceful Planet Human Rights Education

Peaceful Planet's Founder is Lord Duncan McNair who follows in a family tradition of concern for human rights and human welfare.

The opportunity to create Peaceful Planet came with an invitation to speak to an Iranian discussion group about the role of his grandfather Sir Arnold McNair in the case of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1952. Sir Arnold, later the first Lord McNair, was the British judge at the Hague Court from 1946 to 1955.

Iran had enjoyed a democratic government since 1906. In 1952, after making considerable but fruitless efforts to negotiate a fairer share of the oil revenues for the country and its people, Iran's elected Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, nationalized the oil country's oil industry, basically the oil assets of what is now British Petroleum, or BP.

The British Government tried to bring a case against the Iranian Government but the Court decided by nine votes to five that it had no jurisdiction to try the case because the International Court of Justice is where governments bring civil actions against other governments. The judges decided that it was in fact a commercial company not a sovereign government that was trying to bring the case so the case was never heard.

Sir Arnold wrote a paper supporting the Iranian position which no doubt helped to convince the Court to take the view it did. The Americans and British decided on regime change and organized a coup against the elected Government of Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadegh. When Iranians meet to discuss this episode in their history they remember the support of Sir Arnold McNair.

In 1997, Duncan was introduced to Ali Reza Saheb, who had been Mohammed Mossadegh's Private Secretary in 1952. Ali Reza told him the story of nationalization and said that if Sir Arnold McNair had been invited to Tehran at the time and been able to negotiated an agreement between the British and American side and the Iranian Government, the whole history of Iran since 1952 could have been so different.

In January 2014, Duncan was asked to give a talk to the Iranian discussion group, Trebon–e–Zad, (which means Platform of Freedom) about the role in the case of his grandfather to. The organizer also asked him to ‘say something about democracy because the Iranian opposition is very fragmented’. He brought the human rights education materials on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the meeting and they were very well received. Following that meeting in March 2014the first human rights education workshop series started in Farsi.

Now the educational materials have been translated into Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish, Turkish and Urdu. All the materials in all these languages plus English are available for download to use as classroom teaching materials. There's also an online self–study course. You can study this as a group or educate yourself about human rights and use what you have learned to educate others.