UN Elects Iran to Women's Rights Commission

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani / Getty Images
April 22, 2021

The United Nations on Tuesday elected serial women's rights abuser Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women.

Forty-three member nations voted for the regime, including at least four Western and EU countries, according to U.N. Watch, a watchdog organization. Iran will now serve out a four-year term on the commission, which promotes "gender equality and the empowerment of women."

Iran has long faced fierce criticism from human rights activists for its repression of women. Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch, said Iran's election is "morally reprehensible" and undermines the U.N.'s mission to advance women's rights.

"Electing the Islamic Republic of Iran to protect women's rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief," Neuer said. "It's absurd—and morally reprehensible. This is a black day for women's rights, and for all human rights."

The Islamic Republic enforces "discrimination on the basis of gender in law and practice," according to a U.N. report, and up to 450 "honor killings" of Iranian women occur every year. Married women are forbidden from traveling without permission from their husbands, and women are generally barred from political participation. The legal age for a woman to marry in Iran is 13 years old—and as young as 9 with parental and judicial permission.

After the Trump administration pulled the United States out of several U.N. agencies, the Biden administration has vowed to reengage the U.N. in ways experts warn could undermine U.S. interests. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pledged that the United States will rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council, an organization that targets Israel and harbors several of the world's worst human rights abusers. The administration has also restarted taxpayer funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which instructs Palestinian children using an anti-Semitic curriculum.