New Zealand PM calls to expel Iran from U.N. Women’s Rights Commission


GENEVA, October 31 — UN Watch saluted New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for calling today to expel Iran from the U.N.’s top women’s right body, and urged her to initiate the process immediately by introducing a draft resolution prepared by UN Watch.

New Zealand this year became one of the 54 members of the UN Economic and Social Council, which in 2021 shamefully elected the Iranian regime to the Commission on the Status of Women.

As a member of ECOSOC, New Zealand can and should introduce a resolution to remove Iran’s regime.

Although Prime Minister Ardern said today that “the starting point will be engagement with the UN Secretary-General,” his office has made clear repeatedly that he has no involvement on elections of countries to UN bodies, and that this is exclusively a matter for member states.


PM: We have always believed in dialogue and diplomacy as key tools, but we also believe in sending clear messages on behalf of those who are less able to. So on that basis, New Zealand will now suspend indefinitely our human rights dialogue with Iran. We don’t see the utility of holding talks that aren’t accompanied by progress, and, worse, provide a legitimacy to them that their actions don’t warrant.

On that basis, we are also calling on United Nations member States to remove Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women. It is not sustainable for a country that continues to so brutally attack the rights of women to belong to a pre-eminent global body dedicated to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

As a member State, it is our duty to add our voice to this call and to uphold the mandate and values of the commission. We have requested advice on further actions the New Zealand Government can take to amplify our condemnation of Iran’s human rights abuses and demonstrate our support to all those in Iran, especially women and girls standing up for democracy and human rights at very significant risk to their lives.

We’ll now take questions…

Media: How significant is you adding your name—you’re the only world leader to add your name to that letter calling for the removal of Iran from the UN women’s body.

PM: And here you can see me reiterating again today two things: firstly, an end indefinitely to the dialogue between New Zealand and Iran on human rights, to send a clear message that not only have we not seen progress as a result of that dialogue but we have seen a retreat, a regression, in the rights of women and girls—and we’re taking a very clear stand on that.

Secondly, we are calling for Iran to be removed from the UN Commission on the Status of Women, because how can we argue for a member State that has taken such a counter-position on the rights of women and girls to be a member of that commission, which scrutinizes other countries’ positions on the rights of those same groups? It is unsustainable and, in our minds, untenable.

Media: New Zealand has a seat on the UN Economic and Social Council, which determines the membership of that UN women’s group. Will New Zealand introduce a resolution for Iran to be removed?

PM: The starting point will be engagement with the UN Secretary-General. Then, more broadly, I think it will be key to gather momentum and support from as wide a range a group of UN members as possible, and, of course, then you would look to instigate the specific process required. But I think building a broad base of support, as with any movement or resolution in the UN, will be key.

UN Watch