In what may have been the biggest trolling of the United Nations in recent history, Saudi Arabia was elected via secret ballot in the UN Economic and Social Council to the 45-member UN Commission on the Status of Women last week. According to Reuters, twelve other countries were also elected by the council in Geneva to serve for a four-year term, ending in 2022: Algeria, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Iraq, Japan, South Korea, Turkmenistan, Ecuador, Haiti and Nicaragua.
The news promptly sparked mocking and ridicule. UN Watch, a human rights organization monitoring the performance of the United Nations, strongly condemned the appointment of Saudi Arabia to post,citing Riyadh’s poor women’s rights record and widespread gender inequality.
“Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief. It’s absurd,” Hillel Neuer, the UN Watch chief, said.
Every Saudi woman “must have a male guardian who makes all critical decisions on her behalf, controlling a woman’s life from her birth until death. Saudi Arabia also bans women from driving cars,” Neuer added.
Who voted for Saudi Arabia? At least 5 EU nations based on UN Watch math: "Neuer said that seven of the 54 council states did not vote for Saudi Arabia, and that, based on his count, five of the 12 EU states on the council voted in favor of Saudi Arabia. It received the least amount of votes out of all of the 13 newly approved members, he added."
At least 5 EU states voted FOR the Saudis.— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) April 23, 2017
Twitter users were just as amazed at the news:
Insane! Saudi Arabia is elected chieftain over women's rights by U.N? A country where women aren't allowed to drive? https://t.co/mZZHfQvXGa— Luna Safwan (@LunaSafwan) April 23, 2017
Do I understand this correctly? Saudi Arabia is elected chieftain over women's rights by U.N? A country where women aren't allowed to drive?— Yradur (@nacktepoesie) April 23, 2017
According to its website, the CSW with Saudi Arabia now its latest official member, is aimed at "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,"according to its website. Saudi Arabia’s bid to be elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women was made in September 2016. At the time, the country referred to its record on women’s rights protection, which goes “in accordance with Sharia, which guarantees fair gender equality.”
No joke: Saudi Arabia is running for the UN Human Rights Council—and their campaign brochure cites the Saudi record on. . . women's rights. pic.twitter.com/2xqO62V1GS— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) September 22, 2016
“Saudi discrimination against women is gross and systematic in law and in practice. Every Saudi woman must have a male guardian who makes all critical decisions on her behalf, controlling a woman’s life from her birth until death. Saudi Arabia bans women from driving cars,” Neuer raged. “Why did the UN choose the world’s leading promoter of gender inequality to sit on its gender equality commission?”
While the answer was unclear, it involves a dollar sign, lots of zeroes and even greater promises for future "investment" in said 5 EU countries.