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Iran expelled from UN women's rights body over crackdown

December 14, 2022

Tehran has been voted out of a UN commission on women's rights for "increasingly" suppressing human rights amid nationwide protests. The US, which proposed the vote, said it marked a victory for the protesters.

Iranian women arrested by police during a protest in Tehran
Iranian women arrested by police during a protest in TehranImage: SalamPix/ABACA/picture alliance

The UN Economic and Social Council on Wednesday voted to oust Iran from the its Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), citing Tehran's violation of the rights of women and girls. 

Iran has been rocked by nationwide anti-government protests, to which it has responded with a bloody crackdown.

Why was Iran voted out of the UNCSW?

The vote, proposed by the US, passed with a 29-8 vote and 16 abstentions. 

Iran's key ally Russia opposed the vote and said it wanted an opinion from UN legal experts on whether the Economic and Social Council was legally able to oust Tehran.

The resolution expressed "serious concern" over Tehran's actions since September "to continuously undermine and increasingly suppress the human rights of women and girls."

The text decried Iran's "use of lethal force resulting in the deaths of peaceful protesters, including women and girls" and said Tehran's policies "flagrantly" contradicted the mandate of the UNCSW.

The 45 members of the UNCSW are elected by the Economic and Social Council for four-year terms. Wednesday's vote removed Iran for the remainder of its 2022-2026 term. 

UN condemns harsh response to Iran protests

US campaigned to oust Iran

US Vice President Kamala Harris said in November that Washington would work with other states to remove Iran from the UNCSW. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also campaigned for Iran's expulsion. 

"Today's vote to remove Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women is a victory for those protesting in Iran and all of those who stand with them," Harris wrote on Twitter. 

Iran had accused the US of pressuring countries ahead of the vote.

Richard Gowan, UN director at the International Crisis Group think tank, said some council members were "queasy about the precedent" of the vote.

Gowan wrote on Twitter that the US "forced the issue by tabling the proposal with little warning [and] Iran's actions against protesters left many with little choice but to vote yes." 

Iran's crackdown on protests

The death of Jina Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, in the custody of Iran's notorious morality police in September triggered a massive wave of protests. 

She was accused of having defied the country's strict dress code. Protests or individual public displays of defiance in the aftermath often involved young women and girls removing their headscarves in public.

The demonstrations against the Iranian regime have continued, despite police responding with force and the judiciary handing down death sentences to protesters. 

Two protesters have so far been executed, according to Tehran, and more face the death penalty. 

fb/msh (AFP, AP)