Victory: How Iran Was Expelled from the U.N. Women’s Rights Commission

December 14, 2022 — Victory! The Islamic regime of Iran was today expelled from the UN Women’s Rights Commission, following a relentless campaign led by UN Watch, the independent non-governmental human rights organization that fights dictatorships at the world body.

By an overwhelming vote of 29 to 8, the Islamic Republic of Iran became the first government in the history of the United Nations to be removed from the Commission on the State of Women. The action was taken by the commission’s parent body, the UN Economic and Social Council.

“This is a regime that beats, blinds, arrests, tortures, rapes and kills women protesters, and they never should have been there in the first place,” said Hillel Neuer, director of UN Watch.

“Today, we finally see some justice. The UN’s unprecedented expulsion of Ayatollah Khamenei’s murderous and misogynistic regime sends the right message. But let us be clear: this is only the beginning. The free world must now move forward to sanction the killers, expel their diplomats, and do everything possible to remove the Ayatollah’s brutal and barbaric regime from Iran.”

UN Watch was the first in the world to reveal and protest the obscene election of Iran’s regime to the UN’s top women’s right body in April 2021. The exposé sparked parliamentary protests and headlines worldwide.

As documented below, over the past two years, UN Watch waged a relentless campaign to expel the Iranian regime — including a press conference featuring top Iran activists, speeches to the United Nations, a special web page, non-stop social media and videos.

When the Mahsa Amini protests began, UN Watch submitted a draft resolution for the UN to expel the regime. This was followed by an online petition and “Expel Iran” publicity campaigns22 including the take-over of the tram that runs next to the UN Human Rights Council. Finally, today, the regime was expelled.


UN Watch’s Campaign to Expel Iran: Part 1 (April-May 2021)

UN Watch’s exclusive report in April 2021 exposing Iran’s election to the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women sparked a global firestorm. Lawmakers demanded answers and challenged their foreign ministries in the Dutch parliament, the Canadian parliament, the British parliament and the Norwegian parliament, along with questions asked in France, Germany and Switzerland.

Major media coverage worldwide of UN Watch’s report included stories in France’s Le Figaro, Belgium’s La Libre, the Netherlands’s Telegraaf, Voice of America, the UK’s Daily Mail, Germany’s Bild, Brazil’s Gazeta do Povo, Scotland’s The National, Sky News Australia, Norway’s Netavissen, Sweden’s Göteborgs-Posten, and Venezuela’s El Nacional.

Many other journalists, including correspondents and editors from CNN and BBC, shared UN Watch’s report on social media. See below.

Le Figaro (France): Iran elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women

“Iran’s persecution of women is blatant and systematic, both in law and in practice. The UN Secretary-General himself has pointed out the ‘persistent discrimination against women and girls’ in Iran, ”also protested Hillel Neuer, lawyer, human rights activist and head of “UN Watch”, a non-governmental organization based in Geneva. UN Watch has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. In an article published on its site, UN Watch indicates “that at least four of the fifteen members of the group of ‘western democracies’ voted to integrate Iran”. In this group are notably present France, the United States, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom.

La Libre (Belgium): The election of Iran in the UN body supposed to defend women creates an outcry

The NGO UN Watch called on the United States and member states of the European Union to denounce Iran’s election to a four-year term as a member of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. It is the main intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the emancipation of women in the world. This election on Tuesday by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) sparked outrage in the community of human rights activists.

Telegraaf (Netherlands): Woede om toetreding Iran tot VN-commissie vrouwenrechten: ‘Alsof je een pyromaan uitroept tot brandweerman’; BuZa zwijgt over stemgedrag Nederland

Ook VN-waakhond UN Watch is boos en roept Europese lidstaten en de Verenigde Staten op de verkiezing van Iran te veroordelen. „Alsof je een pyromaan uitroept tot brandweerman”, sneerde UN Watch-voorman Hillel Neuer. „Absurd en moreel verwerpelijk.” Hij noemt de Iraanse toetreding ‘een zwarte dag voor vrouwenrechten en mensenrechten in het algemeen’.

Voice of America (United States): Iran’s Election to UN Women’s Body Draws Outrage From Rights Activists, US Silence

Hillel Neuer, the executive director of the Geneva-based group UN Watch, said in an online statement that while ECOSOC typically rubber-stamps regional groups’ nominations for the Commission on the Status of Women, the US exercised its authority as an ECOSOC member to call for a vote. “I commend the Biden administration for forcing the vote, but they should also speak out to condemn the obscene election of [Iranian Supreme Leader] Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime to a women’s rights body,” Neuer said.

Daily Mail (United Kingdom): Outrage as Iran is selected to sit on UN women’s rights panel despite laws banning female sports, making the hijab compulsory and forcing married women to get their husband’s permission to leave the country

Hillel Neuer, director of the Geneva-based group UN Watch, tweeted: “No joke: UN elects Iranian regime to top women’s rights body. Electing Ayatollah Khamenei’s Islamic Republic of Iran to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief. This is a black day for women’s rights, and for all human rights. Iran’s persecution of women is gross and systematic, both in law and in practice. 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. “

Bild (Germany): Gremium für Frauenrechte nimmt Iran auf

Laut der UN-kritischen Nichtregierungsorporation UN Watch müssen mindestens vier der folgenden 15 westlichen Demokratien für den Iran votiert haben: Australien, Österreich, Bulgarien, Kanada, Finnland, Frankreich, Lettland, Deutschland, Luxemburg, die Niederlande, Norwegen, die Schweannien, die , die Vereinigten Staaten und Portugal. Laut UN -Watch-Chef Hillel Neuer ist die Wahl des Iran in die Frauenrechtskommission so, als würde man den Brandstifter zum Feuerwehrchef machen. Er vermutet, dass politische Hinterzimmer-Deals zu dieser Irrsinnswahl geführt haben.

Gazeto do Povo (Brazil): UN escolhe Irã como membro comissão que cuida dos direitos das mulheres

O Conselho Econômico e Social das Nações Unidas escolheu nesta quinta-feira (22) a República do Irã como membro da Comissão das Nações Unidas sobre as Situação das Mulheres – que se intitula o “principal órgão intergovernamental global dedicado daigualoçade intergovernamental global dedicado êigualoçade intergovernamental global dedicado êigualoçade promo e ao empoderamento das mulheres ”.

The National (Scotland): Outrage as Iran gets voted in to UN women’s right committee

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva based human rights group, said: “Electing the Islamic Republic of Iran to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief. It’s absurd – and morally reprehensible. This is a black day for women’s rights, and for all human rights. ”

Sky News (Australia): ‘The UN is a hopelessly corrupt clown operation’

Iran has earned a four-year term on the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women, which is meant to be the principal inter-governmental body that is supposed to be advancing the cause of women. The ballot was secret, so we don’t know precisely who voted to elect Iran into this body. But UN Watch has determined that at least 4 of the 15 EU and Western Group democracies voted for Iran.

Valeurs Actuelles (France): The UN elects Iran to its commission for… women’s rights

Iran was most recently elected to a four-year term on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which according to the non-governmental organization UN Watch is “the world’s leading intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women ”.

Netavissen (Norway): Iran utnevnt til FNs utvalg for kvinners rettigheter: – Helt absurd

Direktør for UN Watch, in interestorganisasjon som følger FN, Hillel Neuer sier til Jerusalem Post at det å utpeke Iran til å beskytte kvinners rettigheter and som å sette in pyromaniac til å være brannsjef. Det er uklarhet om hvordan Norge stemte i saken. Ifølge organisasjonen UN Watch skal minst fire av 15 vestlige land ha som stemte for Irans kandidatur. Avstemningen var hemmelig.

Göteborgs-Posten (Sweden): Kritik word Irans dishes i rådet för kvinnors rättigheter

Kommissionen agerar under FN: s ekonomiska och sociala råd, som denna vecka röstade fram Iran som medlem i kvinnokommissionen under de k command fyra åren, något som UN Watch (in organization vars syfte är att granska FN) report om. 43 av 54 länder röstade för att Iran skulle få en dishes i kvinnokommisionen, enligt UN Watch. Vilka länder som röstade för respektive emot är hemligt.

El Nacional (Venezuela): The UN eligió a Irán para presidir la Comisión de Derechos de la Mujer

The NGO UN Watch, con sede en Ginebra, cuya misión declarada es supervisar el desempeño de las Naciones Unidas según el criterio de su propia carta, rechazó la elección de la República Islámica de Irán debido a las polémicas contra leyes que tiene este país en la mujer. “Felicito a la administración Biden por forzar la votación, pero también deberían hablar para condenar la obscena elección del regimen del ayatolá Jamenei a un organismo de derechos de la mujer”, dijo Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “Es absurdo y morally reprobable. Este es un día negro para los derechos de las mujeres y para todos los derechos humanos ”, agregó.


PARLIAMENTARIANS & MEDIA DEMAND ANSWERS: With the revelation that at least four EU and Western Group democracies voted for Iran, questions were asked in those states.

  • The Netherlands: A foreign ministry spokesperson, questioned by Reformatorisch Dagblad, said: “It was a confidential vote, so, unfortunately, I cannot comment on it.” This prompted Dutch parliamentarians to demand answers from foreign minister Stef Blok. Christian Union MP Gert-Jan Segers asked Blok whether he agreed that “it is inappropriate and unjust that Iran is now sitting on a committee that aims to protect women’s rights.” SGP leader Kees van der Staaij called it “the world upside down that an unfree regime like Iran is supported in the UN and Israel is always put in the suspect bank.” A party employee said that the SGP was going to ask for clarification. The JA21 party also wanted clarification. “JA21 will put @ministerBlok on the spot,” tweeted MP Derk Jan Eppink. “Too nice for Iran and too hard for Israel, the only democracy in the region.”


  • UK: The issue was raised in Parliament by MPs Nus Ghani and Laura Farris, who called on the government to object to Iran’s election. “It beggars belief that Iran sits on the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women,” tweeted Farris. MP Tom Tugendhat, Chair of the British parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, retweeted UN Watch commenting: “Iran’s dictators treat women with cruelty and beat those who don’t obey their dress code, let alone those who speak out — they’re murdered. And others, like Nazanin, are held hostage. They have no place there.”

  • Canada: Foreign minister Marc Garneau twice refused to say a word of condemnation of Iran’s election when asked to do so by Conservative MP Garnett Genuis. Canada’s opposition published a declaration denouncing Iran’s election, stating: “Canada must defend the principle of liberty, women’s equality and human rights,” and asked whether Canada had voted for or against Iran’s election, a question echoed by MP Luc Berthold. Canadian senator Leo Housakos retweeted UN Watch, asking: “Was our “feminist” government amongst those who voted in favor of this ridiculousness?” Senator Pamela Wallin cited UN Watch and expressed her shock, while Senator Linda Frum demanded to know how Canada voted. Canada’s ambassador to the UN Bob Rae eventually confirmed that his country had not voted for Iran.

  • Norway: According to Nettavisen, the Norwegian foreign ministry refused to make its vote public. The issue was raised in parliament. Norwegian Progress Party MP Christian Tybring-Gjedde responded: “It’s complete madness! It also shows that the UN is a corrupt undemocratic organization where votes are bought and sold.”

  • Germany: The newspaper Bild asked its foreign ministry whether Germany was one of the countries that voted for Iran. The question remained unanswered.


  • France: Le Point foreign editor Luc de Barochez tweeted that the UN was “making a fool of itself” and asked the French government which way it voted.


  • Switzerland: Federal parliamentarian Marianne Binder-Keller referred to Iran as “misogynist” and asked whether Switzerland had voted for, against, or had abstained in the vote.


  • USA:  Several lawmakers condemned Iran’s election. Senator Marsha Blackburn called it “an insult to nations like the US, who have worked to support women across the globe.” When Matt Lee of the Associated Press asked a U.S. State Department spokesperson how the U.S. voted and to condemn Iran’s election, the spokesperson repeatedly balked at doing so. (See here for the transcript of the full exchange.)


HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS AND ACTIVISTS: UN Watch’s revelation that Iran had been elected to the UN’s women’s committee prompted a fierce backlash from Iranian activists, including the Association of Iranian Women in France, which said in a statement released with their counterparts in Italy and Sweden: “We consider the election of the extremely misogynistic regime of Iran as an insult to all Iranian women, the main victims of this regime during the last four decades.”

“A regime that does not allow women to make decisions for their own bodies has been elected to a body to monitor the condition of women around the world,” Iranian women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad said in testimony before the Swedish parliament. Alinejad also appeared on many media outlets.

UN Watch 2020 Gala Award recipient Shaparak Shajarizadeh also slammed the election result. “We don’t know which countries voted for Iran, but we’re gonna hold them accountable for this vote,” she pledged.

Speaking on French media, French-Persian novelist Chahdortt Djavann called on “all women to file a complaint against the UN.”

UN Watch’s material was also shared on social media by Foundation for Defense of Democracies CEO Mark Dubowitz, Stockholm Free World Forum chairman Gunnar Hokmark, the Human Rights Foundation, former prisoner of Iran & activist Kylie Moore-Gilbert, UK Muslims Against Anti-Semitism chairman Ghanem Nuseibeh, and human rights activists Dashni Morad and Farahnaz Ispahani.

INFLUENCERS: Major influencers who shared UN Watch’s outrage at Iran’s election on social media included former UN Security Council president Diego Arria, BBC Persian journalist Reihaneh Mazaheri, CNN & Washington Post columnist Frida Ghitis, Nikki Haley’s Stand For America, UK House of Lords member Lady Karren Brady, Iranian journalists Nazenin Ansari & Saman Arbabi, Iranian-American author Dr. Nina Ansari, British Olympic swimming medalist Sharron Davies, Brazilian Olympic volleyball medalist Ana Paula Henkel and Canadian football player Jeff Hecht.



On May 3, 2021, UN Watch organized a online press conference featuring Iranian human rights activists who condemned the regime’s election to the UN women’s rights commission. The event was co-sponsored by the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. (Click here to watch and read full remarks.)

UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer, who moderated the panel, said “Iran has absolutely no place on the world’s leading women’s rights commission. To suggest, as many Western diplomats have, that electing the Islamic Republic will allow the regime to learn and improve its rights record is a farce.”

“I am disappointed that the U.S. refused to clearly condemn Iran’s election, as they had done on a similar occasion in 2014, and also that they failed to take leadership and find a candidate to defeat Iran, as they had done in a similar contest in 2010, when the US recruited East Timor to successfully block Tehran from gaining a seat on a related UN women’s rights board. For some reasons, the US is now granting Iran impunity.”

Iranian-born pro-democracy activist Mariam Memarsadeghi called out Western democracies’ “active appeasement of the regime.” Kaveh Shahrooz, a human rights lawyer and policy expert, described total “shock and revulsion” at Iran’s election to “precisely the institution that the women of Iran should be able to look to defend them against the misogyny and gender apartheid to which they have been subjected for four decades.” He said Iran’s “evil” treatment of women “does not belong in the 21st century.”

Shaparak Shajarizadeh, an Iranian activist imprisoned for removing her headscarf in defiance of the regime’s compulsory hijab law, and named one of BBC’s top most inspiring women around the world, called Iran’s election to the commission “an insult not only to women in Iran but all women.” She testified on how the Islamic Republic beat, brutalized, and interrogated her in the notorious Evin prison for the crime of removing her hijab in public. “It was the most frightening experience of my life,” said Shajarizadeh.

“The election of Iran is an outrage,” said international rights lawyer and advocate for political prisoners Irwin Cotler, Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and former Canadian Minister of Justice and MP. “Refusing to condemn it is a betrayal of the women of Iran, and of the mandate of the UN Commission with respect to the protection of gender equality, and a betrayal of the values that democracies are sworn to uphold and sustain.”




UN Watch’s Campaign to Expel Iran: Part 2 (June 2021 – Sept. 2022)

Over the next year, UN Watch continued to campaign against the regime’s membership on the UN’s top women’s rights body, and raise awareness of the mullahs’ targeting of Iranian women’s rights activists.




UN Watch’s Campaign to Expel Iran: Part 3 (September – December 2022)




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