Iran’s contested bid to join UN Women [Updated]

On Tuesday, Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi stated that it’s “like a joke” that Iran and Saudi Arabia could end up with seats on the board of the UN Women, the new UN entity responsible for accelerating the needs of women and girls worldwide.

Regardless of this, Saudi Arabia, a country where women are not allowed to drive and a woman needs permission from her husband to get a passport to travel abroad is already assured of a place on the board of the women’s super agency. Further  Iran, a country that sentenced a  43 year-old woman (Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani) to death for committing adultery, and, that is frequently condemned for its human rights record, seems a likely candidate as well…that is, unless a last-ditch effort  by countries including Canada, the US, and Australia to block Iran’s bid is successful.

Up until yesterday, Iran was the tenth addition of a 10 seat board representing Asia at UN Women.  While they are still a serious contender for this seat, an 11th candidate, Timor Leste, has stepped forward, in what many view as a direct protest to Iran’s bid.

According to an article in the Globe and Mail, the United States, Canada, and Australia are also taking part by lobbying countries involved in Wednesday’s vote to urge their participation in blocking Iran.

Timor Leste’s entry, however, might not be the direct challenge to Iran that many are hoping for, and could in fact jeopardize  the bids of other competing nations who are scrambling to shore up support before today’s vote which is still largely unpredictable; a fact painfully supported by Canada’s failed bid for a temporary seat on the UN Security Council only last month.

Despite intense opposition to Iran’s bid from various civil society and state representatives, UN officials have attempted to avoid the controversy.

“It is left up to member states to decide,” Farhan Haq, a spokesman for the UN secretary general, said Tuesday.

He added though: “We do expect all member states to uphold fundamental human rights.”

Lets hope…

[Iran lost its bid for a seat on the board of the new UN agency to promote equality for women to East Timor. Iran received just 19 votes compared to 36 for East Timor]




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