Iran was elected to the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations on Tuesday, reported Free Beacon. Iran is a frequent violator of women’s rights.
According to U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group, 43 member countries voted for the regime, including at least four Western and EU countries. Iran has been appointed to the board, which supported “gender equality and women’s empowerment,” for a four-year term.
U.N. Watch has determined that at least four of the 15 EU and Western Group democracies on ECOSOC voted for Iran, although the ballot was kept secret.
The Iranian government severely curtailed the rights to freedom of speech, association, and assembly. Protests were put down with the use of illegal force by security forces. Hundreds of demonstrators, dissidents, and human rights defenders have been illegally detained, and many have been sentenced to jail and flogging. Women, as well as racial and religious minorities, were subjected to long-standing discrimination and brutality.
The authorities failed to take action to end impunity for men who murder their wives or daughters, as well as to ensure transparency that was proportional to the seriousness of the crimes.
The government’s review of a long-standing bill aimed at shielding women from abuse has continued. The delay was due to changes made by the judiciary during the review process, which significantly weakened safeguards.
The vote by the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council sparked outrage among human rights activists. “Electing the Islamic Republic of Iran to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch. “It’s absurd—and morally reprehensible. This is a black day for women’s rights, and for all human rights,” said Neuer.
Masih Alinejad, an Iranian women’s rights activist, tweeted, “This is surreal.”
“A regime that treats women as second class citizens, jails them for not wearing the compulsory hijab, bans them from singing, bars them from stadiums and doesn’t let them travel abroad without the permission of their husbands gets elected to the U.N.’s top women’s rights body,” added Masih.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian academic who has been held captive in Iran for 804 days, expressed surprise at her oppressor’s election.
This was not the first time the U.N. has chosen a delegate from one of the countries with the worst human rights records. China was elected to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in 2020. The Chinese U.N. mission immediately sent out a victorious tweet, praising member states’ “solid support” and promising to promote and protect human rights.
All of this is taking place against a growing global concern and opposition to China’s human rights abuses. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long been chastised for its two-decade-long repression of Falun Gong adherents, also known as Falun Dafa.
In 1999, Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual discipline that grew in popularity in the country during the 1990s, was brutally suppressed.
Adherents have been subjected to arrest, abuse, forced labor, and psychiatric medication, among other forms of torment, for the past 22 years, in an attempt to persuade them to abandon their religion. Experts also noted that the CCP has since used the same tactics to repress other religious communities, most notably the Uighur Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), in its 2021 annual report released on April 21, singled out China as one of the world’s “egregious violators” of religious freedom, claiming that conditions in China worsened in 2020.
“According to reports, thousands of Falun Gong practitioners were harassed and arrested during 2020 for practicing their faith, and some likely died due to abuse and torture while in custody,” the commission stated. “Credible international reports also suggested that organ harvesting, including from Falun Gong practitioners, likely continued.”
The CCP’s harsh repression over Hong Kong has also drawn universal criticism, aided in part by a sophisticated lobbying campaign waged by Hong Kong activists, which has kept the city’s protest movement on the international radar.
Still, a seat at the table is still a seat. Beijing’s election to the U.N. Human Rights Council fits neatly into the country’s more comprehensive policy of influencing global order through multilateral institutions like the U.N.
Beijing has routinely put Chinese nationals at the top of a wide variety of United Nations agencies in recent years. Qu Dongyu, formerly China’s vice minister of agriculture, has led the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization since 2019.
The previous year, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres named Liu Zhenmin, formerly China’s vice-minister for foreign affairs, to a critical role in the U.N.’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs. A body tasked with advancing the U.N.’s flagship program to promote growth, fight climate change, and reduce inequality.
Even the International Civil Aviation Organization, which is led by Chinese national Fang Liu and oversees global air travel, has been accused of holding Taiwan out of the loop on CCP Virus or COVID-19 protocols.
In recent years, the United Nations has evolved into an organization that is almost unrecognizable from its founding ideals. Rather than representing the world’s needs, the U.N. is increasingly supporting the interests of authoritarian actors, most prominently the CCP.