The US will try to remove Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women over Tehran's denial of women's rights and its brutal crackdown on protests, Vice President Kamala Harris said on Wednesday.
Iran is “unfit” to serve on the commission, Ms Harris said, and Tehran's “very presence discredits” the integrity of the body's membership and the work to advance its mandate.
“The United States believes that no nation that systematically abuses the rights of women and girls should play a role in any international or United Nations body charged with protecting these very same rights,” she said.
Protests broke out in Iran in September following the death of Mahsa Amini, who died after being detained by police for wearing her headscarf improperly. Tehran's response has been brutal, with rights groups saying authorities have killed hundreds of people and arrested thousands more.
The UN Commission on the Status of Women and its members are charged with promoting women’s rights and addressing “urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women’s rights”.
Ms Harris became the most senior US official to call on the UN to remove Iran from the commission. The UN Security Council is due to hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the protests.
On Tuesday, the Canadian Parliament became the first legislature call for Iran’s removal from the top women’s rights body and on Monday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her country supports such an action.
At the UN on Wednesday, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi called on "governments of the free world" to withdraw their ambassadors from Tehran.
She urged western powers, especially the US, to refrain from "subscribing [to] any type of agreements" that will allow for the survival of the regime and for the UN to investigate human rights abuses in Iran.
"I remind you that such a commission was previously formed in the case of Myanmar and we hope that [a] similar decision will be made for Iran," Ms Ebadi said.
Iran's ambassador to the UN Saeed Iravani told reporters that his country values human life and dignity, and that police had shown restraint in handling the country’s biggest popular protest movement since 2009.
He also accused the US of hypocrisy and of interfering in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state.