East Timor kicks Iran off the UN Women Agency but Saudi Arabia is in
November 10th, 2010 1:55 pm ET
Last July, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution which created a new, super agency, to promote women's rights and gender equality. The new agency merged four U.N. bodies dealing with women's issues into a single agency with greater clout to represent half the world's population.
Former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet will run UN Women, which will have a 41-member executive board, with 35 members chosen by regional groups and six representing donor nations.
The Canadian Press reported that Iran had been among the 10-nations on an uncontested slate put forward by Asian nations for Wednesday's elections to the board of UN Women until East Timor, prodded by Australia, announced its candidacy, and won the seat thus eliminating Iran from the agency. Diplomats who wished to remain anonymous confirmed that East Timor's entry was designed to get Iran out.
The first person to protest Iran's entry into the new body was none other than Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi; she still believes that the admission of Saudi Arabia is a joke. It is hard to disagree with her, as today's news brings to light a case against a Sri Lankan woman, living in Saudi Arabia, who has been condemned to death by beheading. However, it seems that Saudi Arabia received a free pass as it is expected to be one of the 'donor' nations. Equally farcical is the uncontested admission of Libya and Congo to the agency.
In the event you have not been reading this column, Iran is one of the countries with the worst human rights record, especially when it applies to women. It has been embarassed worldwide into 'suspending' the death sentence of Sakineh Ashtiani wrongly accused of adultery; another female and human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, is languishing in jail and is on a hunger strike; and who can forget Neda? The beautiful, vibrant Iranian young woman shot to death during a protest against Iran's rigged presidential election.
"We are relieved that the Asia group in the end is not offering Iran a free pass to the board of UN Women," Philippe Bolopion, UN advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.