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15 Dec, 2022 03:15

Iran booted from UN commission after US push

Both Tehran and Moscow questioned the legality of the US-backed resolution
Iran booted from UN commission after US push

Iranian representatives have been removed from a UN group dedicated to women’s rights, following a vote spearheaded by the United States.

Washington accused the Tehran government of abuses against demonstrators, in a wave of unrest triggered the death of a young woman in police custody earlier this year. Iran slammed the resolution as illegal, arguing there is “no precedent” for such a move.

The 54-member United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) passed a measure in a 29-8 vote on Wednesday to expel Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women, with 16 countries abstaining. The decision took effect immediately, and the Islamic Republic will not be permitted to rejoin the organization until the end of the 2022-2026 UN term.

Washington, which first proposed the idea, later celebrated the vote, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken declaring that the resolution “sends an unmistakable message of support” to women and girls in Iran, while the White House said the decision would help to “hold Iran accountable” for alleged crackdowns on protesters in recent months. 

Iran’s UN Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani, however, insisted the measure was “entirely illegal,” noting that no other nation has ever been stripped of membership on the commission.

“Council members are fully aware that there is no precedent in the Council's practice of terminating an elected member's participation in a functional Commission for any alleged reason, nor is it supported by the Council's rule of procedures,” Iravani said.

While Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative Gennady Kuzmin requested an opinion from UN attorneys on whether the resolution was valid, the Canadian envoy, Bob Rae, argued that the vote had to take place before members could ask for a legal opinion. It is unclear whether Moscow went ahead with the request, though it ultimately voted against the resolution.

In addition to Russia, opponents to the US-sponsored measure included China, Bolivia, Oman, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Kazakhstan and Zimbabwe, while some major countries, such as India, voted to abstain. Afghanistan is supposed to sit on the council, but the country’s Taliban-led government has not been permitted to take part in meetings or votes. 

The US and a number of allies have repeatedly accused Tehran of abuses against demonstrators rallying since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who lost her life under mysterious circumstances in September after being arrested by Iran’s ‘morality police.’ Though the government chose to abolish the police force after weeks of demonstrations and rioting, officials say the unrest has been fueled by foreign states seeking to destabilize Iran under the guise of legitimate protests, some singling out the US and Israel by name.