Over the past years various United Nations human rights related bodies have been subject to embarrassment and scrutiny given countries like Saudi Arabia and China have served on them. With such a track record, it was apparently thought a good idea to let another notorious violator of human rights take up an important human rights role at the UN.
Last week the UN’s Economic and Social Council elected Iran to a 4-year term on its Commission on the Status of Women. That's right, the hardline Shia Islamic theocracy now sits on a council defining itself as the "principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women."
International outrage among women's rights groups and others was swift and fierce, with the executive director of UN Watch perhaps putting it best: "Electing the Islamic Republic of Iran to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief," Hillel Neuer said.
"It’s absurd — and morally reprehensible. This is a black day for women’s rights, and for all human rights," Neuer added.
It should also be noted that China and Pakistan are also on the same Commission on the Status of Women.
The Hill reviews the status of women's rights inside the Islamic Republic of Iran, which it notes has "some of the strictest laws and codes in the world" limiting women's freedom as follows:
Married women cannot obtain passports or leave the country without permission from their husbands. Women who are not married are similarly under the control and supervision of their fathers.
Women cannot go out in public uncovered due to mandatory hijab laws, and those who do face jail time, according to the 2020 World Report by Human Rights Watch.
A 2020 Amnesty International report stated that in Iran, "the authorities failed to criminalize domestic violence, marital rape, early and forced marriage and other gender-based violence against women and girls, which remained widespread."
Human Rights Watch (HRW) also denounced Iran's nomination to the UN women’s committee while emphasizing Iran's "deplorable women’s rights records."
Look at her face. This week the U.N. Elected those who threw acid on her face for wearing “inappropriate hijab” to its top Women’s Rights Commission.— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) April 24, 2021
Women of my country Iran are disappointed at the UN .
Don’t legitimize a misogynist regime.@antonioguterres
The group also called on the UN to overhaul its opaque nomination and elections process, given well-known states that are abusers of human rights keep getting elected to key committees.