Rowena Abdul Razak: “Occupation and Sovereignty”, Britain and Iran’s Road to the UN, 1941-1946

/ University of Toronto Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies


Rowena Abdul Razak


November 4, 2022

Dr. Rowena Abdul Razak received her DPhil in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford where she looked at the Tudeh Party in British policy during the Second World War and early Cold War. She is currently a Guest Teacher at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The Fifth Episode of Parse is an excerpt from a lecture given by Rowena Abdul Razak titled “Occupation and Sovereignty: Britain and Iran’s Road to the United Nations, 1941-1946″. In this lecture, Razak explores the ironic and uncomfortable position Britain was in as a key member of the alliance fighting for a free world from the Axis powers, while at the same time being an occupying force in Iran. A few months after the invasion of Iran, the concept of the United Nations was drafted by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Uk Prime Minister Winston Churchill in December 1941. While notions of intergovernmental cooperation and protection of sovereignty were cornerstones of the UN, Britain had actively intervened in neutral Iran and bypassed its sovereignty to prioritize its own needs. Razak explores this uncomfortable dichotomy and how this led to Iran’s eventual membership in the UN in 1945.