Iran Kicked Out of U.N. Women’s Rights Commission

Iranian women gather during a protest outside the United Nations mission headquarters as t
Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iran was expelled from the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) on Wednesday in a vote initiated by the United States.

The resolution cited Tehran’s efforts to “continuously undermine and increasingly suppress the human rights of women and girls,” and its “use of lethal force” against demonstrators during the Mahsa Amini uprising.

UNCSW is a subsidiary of the U.N. Economic and Social Council. Established in 1946, its 54 members hold a two-week session at U.N. headquarters in New York every year to discuss “the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as well as their human rights.”

Iran’s term on the commission began in April 2022 and was scheduled to run until 2026, but the members voted 29-8 with 16 abstentions to evict Iran immediately over the death of a young Kurdish woman named Mahsa Amini in September at the hands of brutal “morality police” for allegedly wearing her headscarf improperly, and the regime’s brutal crackdown on protests that have swept Iran ever since.

Iranians who live in Brazil protest against the death of Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, who died in Iran while in police custody, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, September 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

One vote against the resolution came from Iran’s ally Russia, which said it wanted the Economic and Social Council to appoint a panel of legal experts to determine if it was legal for UNCSW to vote to expel a member. China also voted against the resolution.

Richard Gowan, U.N. director for the International Crisis Group, said on Wednesday that some other members were “queasy” about the precedent set by expelling Iran, but the U.S. “forced the issue” by calling the vote suddenly and leaving other members with “little choice but to vote yes.”

“Even a lot of countries disgusted by Iran’s behavior would have preferred something milder, like temporarily suspending Iran from the CSW, but the U.S. effectively forced other members to get in line by announcing the initiative with very little warning,” Gowan said.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said UNCSW “cannot do its important work if it is being undermined from within.”

“Iran’s membership at this moment is an ugly stain on the Commission’s credibility,” she said.

The Associated Press

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks to reporters during a news conference at United Nations headquarters on March 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Thomas-Greenfield praised the courage of Iranian protesters and mourned the hideous, pointless, and not terribly uncommon abuse of Amini.

“We know she was killed for the crime of being a woman. And for too long, for too often, this was not such an unusual thing in Iran,” the U.S. ambassador said.

Thomas-Greenfield said it was urgently necessary to send a strong signal to Iranian protesters that the United Nations supports them.

“We will condemn Iran, and we will not let them sit on the Commission for the Status of Women and continue to attack women in their own country,” she said.

Iran denounced and “categorically rejected” the resolution against it.

“It is not at all unexpected that the United States is taking such unlawful action against Iran, given its long-standing hostility towards the Iranian people, but if carried out, it would be exceedingly dangerous to the U.N. system integrity,” Iranian Ambassador Amir Saeid Jalil Iravani said before the vote was taken.

“This one-sided action of the U.S. … is an attempt to impose unilateral political demands and ignore electoral procedures in international institutions,” raged Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani on Thursday.

“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 charged.

The Amini uprising continues, and so does the crackdown against it. On Monday, Iran hanged the second person sentenced to death for “waging war against God” by protesting against the abuse of women. Human rights activists say at least two Kurdish prisoners have been tortured to death by the regime. 

All of the known execution victims to date were men in their 20s, but over 18,000 people have been arrested and over 480 killed during the protests, including 68 children and teenagers.


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