GENEVA, March 24, 2022 — Iran will tomorrow begin a 4-year term on the UN’s top women’s rights body, having been elected last year with the votes of at least four Western states.
“Electing the Islamic Republic of Iran to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based independent human rights group.
“We call on the U.S., EU states, and all other democracies to end their silence — regardless of any nuclear deal with Tehran — and state for the record this is absurd, morally reprehensible, and an insult to the oppressed women of Iran. This is a dark day for women’s rights, and for all human rights,” said Neuer.
The fundamentalist regime will join the Commission on the Status of Women, the “principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women,” when it formally opens its 67th session on March 25, 2022.
Iran’s Horrific Record on Women’s Rights
“Iran’s persecution of women is gross and systematic, both in law and in practice. The UN’s own secretary-general has reported on Iran’s ‘persistent discrimination against women and girls,'” said Neuer.
“Iran’s fundamentalist mullahs force women to cover their hair, with many arrested and attacked daily under the misogynistic hijab law. They require a woman to receive permission from her father to get married. The legal age for a girl to marry in Iran is 13—with even younger girls allowed to marry with paternal and judicial consent.”
“Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime imprisons courageous women’s rights activists, such as Nasrin Sotudeh, Mojgan Keshavarz, Yasaman Aryani, and Monireh Arabshahi, for the crime of peacefully demanding their human dignity.”
“Why, then, did the UN name one of the world’s worst oppressors of women as a world judge and guardian of gender equality and the empowerment of women?” asks Neuer.
“By elevating a misogynystic regime to its highest women’s rights body, the UN is sending a message that women’s rights can be sold out for backroom political deals,” said Neuer, “and it betrays millions of female victims in Iran and elsewhere who look to the world body for protection.”
Iran’s fundamentalist regime will now become one of 45 commission members that, according to the UN, will play an instrumental role in “promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.”
Iran won 43 votes in a secret ballot last year at the UN’s 54-nation Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
“The Biden Administration must speak out to condemn the obscene election of Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime to a women’s rights body,” said Neuer.
Iranian Activists, Victims, Decry ‘Surreal’ Vote
“This is surreal,” tweeted Iranian women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad, in wake of Iran’s election last year. “A regime that treats women as second class citizens, jails them for not wearing the compulsory hijab, bans them from singing, bars them from stadiums and doesn’t let them travel abroad without the permission of their husbands gets elected to the UN’s top women’s rights body.”
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, the Australian academic held hostage in Iran for 804 days, expressed astonishment at the election of her oppressor.
Iran's regime will begin its four-year term "at the first meeting of the Commission’s sixty-seventh session in 2022." https://t.co/uRl7ebkLd3
This will be on March 25, 2022. https://t.co/GFTt2hI5YR
Iran's regime will stay on until the close of its 70th session in March 2026.
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) February 16, 2022
At Least 4 EU & Western Democracies Backed Iran
Though the ballot was secret, UN Watch has determined that at least four of the 15 EU and Western Group democracies on ECOSOC—which include Australia, Austria, Finland, France, Latvia, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States—voted for Iran. UN Watch called on lawmakers to demand that their governments reveal how they voted.
In 2017, after a similar secret ballot for the same UN women’s rights commission, a UN Watch campaign led to Belgium’s admission that it voted to elect Saudi Arabia, and to the revelation that the the Belgian government made sure to tell the Saudis that they voted for them.
I know some of you don't believe me that the U.N. actually elected the Islamic Republic of Iran yesterday to its top women's rights body, so here's the video: https://t.co/43ckGoMrcR pic.twitter.com/zkuzME9R6N
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) April 21, 2021
This is surreal.
A regime that treats women as 2nd class citizens, jails them for not wearing compulsory hijab, bans them from singing, bars them from stadiums & doesn't let them travel abroad without the permission of their husbands gets elected to UN's top women's rights body https://t.co/VdGOkWxZgG
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) April 22, 2021
News: The Islamic Republic of Iran joins the U.N. Women's Rights Commission next Friday, March 25. https://t.co/vrBFbfOOaO
Our latest UN Watch cartoon, by Moshik Gulst.
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) March 15, 2022