Iran says US orchestrated removal from UN women's rights body

Iran, elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in April for a four-year term, was stripped of its membership with immediate effect

Iranian representatives during discussions about the removal of the republic from the UN women's rights body. AFP
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Iran on Thursday accused the United States of orchestrating its removal from a UN women's rights body over its response to protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini.

Iran has endured waves of protests since the September 16 death in custody of Amini, a young Iranian Kurd who had been arrested for allegedly flouting the country's dress code for women.

Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands arrested in the street violence, leading to international condemnation and Iran's removal on Wednesday from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW).

Iran blamed the United States, saying the move was a result of its arch-foe's concerted efforts and that it lacked "legal justification".

"This one-sided action of the US ... is an attempt to impose unilateral political demands and ignore electoral procedures in international institutions," foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said.

"Removing a legal member of the commission is a political heresy which discredits this international organisation and also creates a unilateral procedure for future abuses of international institutions," he added.

Iran, which was elected to the body in April for a four-year term, was stripped of its membership with immediate effect.

A simple majority was needed to adopt the move, which was approved after 29 members of the UN Economic and Social Council voted in favour, eight countries, including Russia and China, voted against and 16 abstained.

The text of the UN resolution said the Iranian authorities "continuously undermine and increasingly suppress the human rights of women and girls, including the right to freedom of expression and opinion, often with the use of excessive force".

The head of Iran's high council for human rights, Kazem Gharibabadi, said the motive of the United States for supporting the resolution was to protect its own interests.

The US "only pursues its inhumane and anti-human rights interests and goals" by issuing "false and hypocritical statements and comments" against Iran, he said in a Twitter post.

Speaking after Iran’s removal from the body, Amir Saeid Iravani, Tehran’s top diplomat to the UN described the action as unlawful and that it would “undermine the rule of law at the UN system”.

“It is not at all unexpected that the United States is taking such unlawful action against Iran given its long-standing hostility toward the Iranian people, but if carried out, it would be exceedingly dangerous to the UN system's integrity,” Mr Iravani said.

Iran said on December 3 that more than 200 people had been killed in the unrest, including security personnel. Human rights groups based abroad say the country's security forces have killed more than 450 people.

Iran has handed down 11 death sentences in connection with the protests. It has carried out two executions in the past week. Campaigners say a dozen other defendants face charges that could lead to them being sentenced to death.

Updated: December 15, 2022, 10:49 AM