Electioneering in Universal House of Justice

As we all know, Baha’i elections are *supposed* to take place without any nominating procedure, and without campaigning.

I’d like to suggest that in the light of these principles of Shoghi Effendi, the last few persons elected to the Universal House of Justice were elected in contravention of Baha’i electoral law and are guilty of de facto electioneering.

Typically, the punishment for electioneering is that the person’s administrative rights are removed and the body on which he serves is often dissolved for new elections.

In 1963-1983, Baha’i elections for the Universal House of Justice, in which NSA members serve as delegates, appear to have been conducted in an upright manner. Several US and UK NSA secretaries were elected. But then people like Hushmand Fatheazam (India) and Ali Nakhjavani (pioneer in Uganda) were also put on.

From 1988, however, almost all electees have been Counsellors with appointments at the International Teaching Center in Haifa. The two exceptions prove the rule. Adib Taherzadeh was a continental counselor and Doug Martin had been brought to Haifa as a publicist for the UHJ. The NSA secretary of the largest Baha’i community, India, has never been ranked that highly in the voting, even though he makes the most sense given that most Baha’is are in the third world and he knows how to administer them. Likewise, NSA secretaries or just NSA members in large Baha’i communities in Africa and Asia are not considered eligible, apparently. There is no true Third World representation on the House of Justice, which is run by Iranian and Commonwealth males.

On Taherzadeh’s death last year, Kiser Barnes, yet another Counselor at the International Teaching Center, was tapped to succeed him. He joins Hooper Dunbar, Peter Khan and Farzam Arbab, all of whom came in that way.

Now, one gets to be counselor at the ITC by appointment. If the ITC counselors are now the candidate pool for UHJ membership, which is what the voting pattern of the past decade and a half demonstrates, then *appointment of a male counselor to the ITC is a form of nomination*.

Counselors at the ITC travel (on your dime folks) all over the world to consult with NSAs, so that they become very well known to the very people who elect the UHJ. This is a form of stealth campaigning. They are also in a position to do favors for NSAs and their members.

It seems to me, then, that Hooper Dunbar, Peter Khan, Farzam Arbab, and Kiser Barnes got to be on the UHJ by nomination and campaigning. The same applies to Doug Martin in my view, but that case is more ambiguous.

Khan and Arbab in particular have shown a ruthless disregard for Baha’i law and basic human decency (as in the scurrilous threats launched at talismanians
and the hijacking of the Baha’i encyclopedia by Arbab, and the expulsion of Alison Marshall at Khan’s insistence). This pattern of unethical behavior accords well with the illegitimacy of their route to power.

Recently the ITC was shuffled yet again and counselors like Fred Schechter, who were considered too ‘soft,’ were fired, with extreme hardliners brought in.
Not only are the ITC Counselors now ‘nominated’ for UHJ membership and then sent about to campaign, but they are subject to an ideological litmus test that is ratcheting the center of gravity on the UHJ increasingly toward the Far Right of authoritarianism, disregard for the rule of law, regimentation of the community & etc.

It an ideal world, those guilty of electioneering would be forced off the House, have their administrative rights removed, and the House would be dissolved in
preparation for free and fair elections. But, then, in an ideal world, Hell would have frozen over.



April 20,2001

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