UN Ousts Iran From Women’s Rights Panel Amid Anti-Regime Protests

UN Ousts Iran From Women’s Rights Panel Amid Anti-Regime Protests
Iranians march during a pro-hijab rally in the capital Tehran on Sept. 23, 2022. (AFP via Getty Images)
Aldgra Fredly

United Nations member states have ousted Iran from the U.N. women’s rights body, a first for the commission, as Iran is embroiled in a protest movement sparked by the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody in September.

A total of 29 countries on Dec. 14 voted in favor of a U.S.-led resolution to remove Iran from the U.N. commission for the remainder of its 2022–2026 term, while eight member states voted against it and 16 others abstained.

The resolution raises concern over the Iranian regime’s use of lethal force against protesters and suppression of women, citing the case of Mahsa Amini, who died after being detained by the country’s so-called “morality police.”

Speaking to reporters in New York, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that Iran’s membership in the commission “directly undermines” the body’s work and is “a stain” on its credibility.

“Iranian women have clearly called for us, here at the United Nations, to remove Iran from the Commissions on the Status of Women. It was a sensible request,” Thomas-Greenfield was quoted as saying by the U.N.

Iran was elected to the body in April after winning support in a secret ballot last year, which sparked outrage among human rights activists.

China, Russia, and Kazakhstan were among those who rejected the resolution. A Chinese representative at the U.N. said the resolution was aimed at turning the commission into a political tool, while the Russian Federation requested a legal opinion.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani condemned the resolution, calling it an attempt by the United States to impose “unilateral political demands and ignore electoral procedures in international institutions.”

“Removing a legal member of the commission is a political heresy which discredits this international organization and also creates a unilateral procedure for future abuses of international institutions,” Kanani said, AFP reported.

At least 495 people have been killed in the anti-regime protests, and over 18,200 people have been detained by authorities amid a harsh security clampdown, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran.

Iranian authorities have also arrested influencers and celebrities, the most recent being Taraneh Alidoosti, star of the Oscar-winning film “The Salesman,” after she expressed solidarity on Instagram with a man recently executed for crimes allegedly committed during the protests.

Historic Move

International human rights groups welcomed the United Nations’ decision to expel Iran from its women’s rights commission, including the American Jewish Committee, which stated that Iran’s expulsion “corrects a grave mistake.”

The head of U.N. Watch, Hillel Neuer, described it as a “historic” move by the U.N. member states, which he believes sent an important message to the dictatorship in Iran regarding its “shameless” human rights violations.

“Only twice in the history of the past few decades were evil dictatorships removed. And both cases, campaigns that we spearheaded,” he said in an interview with ILTV Israel News on Dec. 16, citing Libya’s expulsion in 2011 and Russia’s in April 2022.

Neuer revealed that “there is a kind of moral bankruptcy and moral corruption” in the U.N. culture, where the worst dictatorships, such as Iran, will get elected to the U.N. body despite having records of human rights violations.

“They seek election for reasons of propaganda, to protect their records of abuse. They seek election to the world’s highest human rights bodies and very often they win,” he said.

Iran received 43 votes in a secret ballot for the U.N. women’s rights commission, while 11 nations voted against it. At least four European Union and Western countries supported Iran’s election, according to U.N. Watch.

Citing data from the U.S.-based Freedom House, Neuer said that most of the U.N. Human Rights Council member states, or 70 percent, are either outright dictatorships or various other kinds of authoritarian regimes.

“There’s never been a resolution at the Human Rights Council on Pakistan, on Cuba, on China, on Saudi Arabia. Most of the world’s worst regimes get a free pass. That has to end. I’m glad to see that the U.S. is trying to make changes,” he added.

Leaders from the United States, Britain, and Canada called for a debate on the Chinese Communist Party’s suppression of the Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang after a U.N. report documented possible crimes against humanity in the region. But only 17 nations voted in favor and 19 others were against.
The Associated Press and Andrew Thornebrooke contributed to this report.