US balks at condemning Iran’s election to UN women’s commission

After a UN Watch report exposed the secret-ballot election of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price was asked during his daily press briefing how the U.S. voted and to condemn Iran’s election. In the exchange, Spokesperson Price repeatedly refused to make any direct condemnation of Iran’s election or of its record on women’s rights, and declined to state how the U.S. voted on Iran’s candidacy.

Following is the video and the transcript between U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Ned Price and Associated Press Diplomatic Correspondent Matthew Lee during the Department of State Press Briefing on April 29, 2021. 

QUESTION: I just want – did you get an – I asked you on I think it was Monday about the vote at the UN on the – or Iran’s election to the Commission on the Status of Women. Did you get answer on how you voted?

MR. PRICE: So what I can say, Matt, is that the unopposed candidacies of countries that engage in torture, in abuse, violations of human rights and due process – it was a troubling feature of this election, the election that you referred to. That’s why – that’s precisely why the United States called for the vote on the Commission of the Status of Women, specifically to allow countries to register their opposition. The United States supports candidates in the UN system that seek to contribute positively to its work and mission and reinforce the foundational values of the UN system, including human rights. And that’s precisely why we have re-engaged with the UN, re-engaged with its human rights body, and will continue to do that throughout the UN system.

QUESTION: So you voted against them?

MR. PRICE: It was a private vote, but we called the vote specifically to allow countries to register their concern.

QUESTION: Okay. It was a private vote. Well, what do you think? Is it appropriate for them to be on this commission, this council?

MR. PRICE: Well, I would point you to what I just said. It is a troubling feature when countries run unopposed, countries that have —

QUESTION: Well, I’m talking about Iran specifically.

MR. PRICE: Well, and I’m – and in this case —

QUESTION: Do you guys have an issue with them being on this commission?

MR. PRICE: In this case, I think that Iran would qualify for much of what I just said: countries that have very troubling records, deeply disturbing records.

QUESTION: Yeah, but you said it was – but you said it was – you didn’t say that it was troubling for them to be on it; you said it was a troubling feature for these kinds of countries to run unopposed.

MR. PRICE: Well, and it’s precisely why we called this vote.

QUESTION: So is it an issue —

MR. PRICE: So countries could register their concern.

QUESTION: So is it safe to say – would someone be wrong in writing that the U.S. thinks it’s a bad idea for Iran to be on this commission?

MR. PRICE: With a commission like this, we think that members should reflect the values underlying the commission.

QUESTION: And Iran doesn’t. All right. I’ll drop it there.

UN Watch