Iran ousted from UN women’s body after US campaign

Iran was expelled from the UN’s leading women’s rights body on Wednesday. The move came amid continuing brutal attempts by the Iranian regime to crack down on peaceful protesters who first took to the streets three months ago following the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

More than 350 protesters have been killed over the past three months, according to rights groups, and 18,000 have been arrested and face the death penalty. The regime is known to have executed two protesters so far, in defiance of international condemnation and there are fears that mass executions will follow.

The 54-member UN Economic and Social Council on Wednesday voted to adopt a resolution, proposed by the US, that called for the removal “with immediate effect (of) the Islamic Republic of Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women for the remainder of its 2022-2026 term.”

The 45-member commission, which meets in March each year, works to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Twenty-nine members of the council voted in favor of the resolution, eight against and there were 16 abstentions.

After the motion passed, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, told Arab News: “Our sense is the Iranians were unnerved by this (move). The fact that they were there (in the chamber) and they protested (show that) they clearly, for reasons that are not clear to me, want to be on this council.

“And now they know if they want to be on this council, they have to change their behavior.”

During the vote, Thomas-Greenfield described Iran’s membership of the body as “an ugly stain on the commission’s credibility.”

She added: “(Iranian) women and activists have appealed to us, the United Nations, for support. They made their request to us loud and clear: Remove Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women.”

She thanked the Iranian activists “in the room, and those around the world, for your courage, your foresight, sacrifices and for your leadership.”

She said Wednesday’s vote was an answer to the call of Iran’s civil society and it “will reverberate across the globe.”

She later told Arab News: “We’re hoping that what happens now is we will start to see some behavior changes. We did see the decision to disband the morality police; I don’t think that’s going to change things, specifically, on the ground. But it shows that they’re trying to make something, to respond, and I’m hoping that in the end they will hear ECOSOC clearly and they will stop their unrelenting brutality against protesters in the streets.”

Iran’s permanent representative to the UN, Amir Saeid Iravani, described the US-led move as “unlawful” and part of what he called “the hostile US policy toward Iranians, especially toward Iranian women.”

The protests in Iran began shortly after Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman, died on Sept. 16. She was arrested three days earlier by the so-called morality police for failing to follow strict rules governing the wearing of the hijab. Rights activists said her death was the result of a police beating.

The protests quickly spread across most of the country and have continued, growing into a popular revolt by Iranians from all sections of society and posing what many see as the most significant challenge to the legitimacy of the regime since it came to power in the 1979 revolution.

The regime blames foreign enemies and their agents for the unrest.