Iran booted from UN women’s rights panel as repression of protests continues

US-led resolution removing Islamic Republic passes by a wide margin, with Russia and China voting against; Israel, US Jews hail move as a win for women’s rights

Luke Tress is an editor and a reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

US envoy to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during the 5th plenary meeting of the Economic and Social Council regarding the removal of the Iran from membership in the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on December 14, 2022. (Yuki Iwamura/AFP)
US envoy to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during the 5th plenary meeting of the Economic and Social Council regarding the removal of the Iran from membership in the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on December 14, 2022. (Yuki Iwamura/AFP)

NEW YORK — Iran was expelled on Wednesday from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women by a majority vote, with a number of countries voicing alarm over the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the country’s morality police and the Islamic Republic’s violent crackdown on the ensuing rights protesters throughout the country.

The US-led resolution to remove Iran from the leading UN women’s rights body passed by a vote of 29 in favor, 8 against and 16 abstentions.

It appears to be the first time a country was removed from the commission. The resolution will remove Iran for the remainder of its 2022-2026 term.

The US, Israel, Canada, Japan and a number of European nations voted in favor of Iran’s removal, while China and Russia voted against and India abstained.

The US led the push to have Iran removed from the commission, calling the Islamic Republic’s membership “an ugly stain.”

The US envoy to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, presented the resolution to the UN’s Economic and Social Council at the world body’s headquarters in New York.

She blasted Iran for Amini’s death and the violent suppression of protesters, which have included public executions after trials that rights groups have said were illegitimate.

“We know she was killed for the crime of being a woman and we know that for too long, for too often this was not such an unusual thing in Iran,” Thomas-Greenfield said of Amini.

US Representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during a press conference, in the United Nations Security Council, September 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

“When the people of Iran heard it they said ‘enough was enough.’ Iranian women and men across the ethnicities and social classes stood up to protest,” she said. “They have demanded their basic human rights. They have come together through a simple rallying call: women, life, freedom.”

She said women’s rights activists inspired the US move to have Iran removed from the commission.

“The reason why is straightforward — the commission is the premiere UN body for promoting gender equality and empowering women. It cannot do its important work if it’s being undermined from within. Iran’s membership in this moment is an ugly stain on the commission’s credibility,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

Israel, the UK and a number of other countries signed onto the US resolution as co-sponsors. The resolution’s text underlined Iran’s suppression of “the human rights of women and girls, including the right to freedom of expression and opinion, often with the use of excessive force,” including the “use of lethal force resulting in the deaths of peaceful protestors, including women and girls.”

Members of the UN Commission on the Status of Women vote Iran out of the rights body, December 14, 2022. (Screenshot)

The Iranian delegation said it “categorically rejects” the resolution and claimed it was based on “fabricated allegations.”

The country’s envoy attacked the US and Israel in a speech to the commission after the vote, accusing Israel of oppressing Palestinian women and the US of supporting it.

“Tragically, the UN, as an organization created for multilateralism, is hosted by a country that strives for exclusivity, supremacy, unilateralism, international bullying and intimidation as part of its foreign policy agenda,” she said, attacking the US for “ongoing and illegitimate support of the Israeli regime that has decades of track record of violence against Palestinian women and girls.”

“It’s astounding that the Israeli regime with its systematic apartheid combined with occupation, colonization, intimidation and the unlawful inhuman siege which continues unabated with the unconditional support of the US and other Western countries is lecturing us on women’s rights,” she said.

The Palestinians, who are not members of the commission, also protested the move by signing a letter with Iran on Monday, Reuters reported.

Russia, which is cooperating with Iran in its invasion of Ukraine, attempted to stall the vote with a procedural objection but was voted down.

“Each state has not only the right but the obligation to maintain public order,” Russian envoy Gennady Kuzmin said, accusing Western states of hypocrisy.

“Did we meet regarding the membership of the United States on the commission after the wave of violence and vandalism following the death of George Floyd?” he said.

China accused the commission of “bullying, hypocrisy and double standards.”

Israel’s UN envoy Gilad Erdan spoke out against Iran’s Middle East terror activities and urged an end to nuclear negotiations.

“This regime’s destructive nature cannot be changed,” he said. “This is a regime that doesn’t care about its people, it only cares about its own survival.”

He expressed support for Iranian rights protesters, saying the demonstrators’ motto, “women, life, freedom,” in Farsi.

“We Israelis salute their bravery and view ourselves as true allies of the Iranian people,” he said.

Iran’s removal from the commission was hailed by US officials, rights groups, Israel and Jewish groups.

Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid said, “Israel commends the UN Economic and Social Council’s decision to remove Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women. Israel supported this resolution.”

US Vice President Kamala Harris called the vote “a victory for those protesting in Iran and all of those who stand with them. The unmistakable message is this: the world is listening and taking action. The women and girls of Iran will be heard.”

The American Jewish Committee said the vote “corrects a grave mistake.”

B’nai B’rith International said Iran’s removal from the commission “signaled fundamental solidarity with women in Iran and internationally by denying the Tehran regime the undeserved legitimacy of CSW membership.”

Leading Iranian rights activist Masih Alinejad said the move “is a victory for Iranian revolutionaries who have been facing guns and bullets as they fight this gender apartheid state.”

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.