The UN decision to exclude Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) over Tehran’s recent crackdowns on anti-government protests has prompted an immediate reaction from the country’s foreign ministry.
On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani strongly criticized the approval of a resolution introduced by the United States, arguing that the move was “politicized” and “lacked any legal validity”.
“This one-sided action of the US... is an attempt to impose unilateral political demands and ignore electoral procedures in international institutions,” France24 quoted Kanaani as saying.
“Removing a legal member of the commission is a political heresy which discredits this international organization and also creates a unilateral procedure for future abuses of international institutions,” he added.
On Wednesday, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) suspended Iran’s membership in the commission for the remainder of its 2022-2026 term following a vote in which 29 members voted in favor, eight against and 16 abstained.
The resolution voices concern over the Iranian government’s actions aimed “to increasingly suppress human rights of women and girls, using lethal force that has resulted in the deaths of peaceful protestors.”
With its 45 members elected for several years, the UN Commission on the Status of Women is supposed to strengthen the position of women and girls in society.
Russia and China, among others, voted against the resolution. Ahead of the voting, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations Geng Shuang criticized the draft resolution, saying that it “has no basis in law at all.” He also mentioned that ECOSOC rules of procedure contain no provisions on removing membership in the Commission on the Status of Women.
In the resolution, there is no mention of Iranian women's huge sufferings caused by the indiscriminate unilateral sanctions against Iran, he said. China believes that the Iranian government and its people can properly handle their domestic affairs.
“This is nothing but naked bullying, hypocrisy and double standard,” Shuang said.
Since September, Iran - a country of over 85 million people that is two-and-a-half times larger than the US state of Texas - has been rocked by countrywide protests. Protests in Iran were triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian-Kurdish woman who was detained by the country’s morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
As of December 7, Iran’s security forces killed at least 458 people in the crackdown on the protests, including 63 under the age of 18 and 29 women, according to the foreign-based Human Rights News Agency (HRANA). Authorities have also reported death sentences being issued against five protesters, bringing the total number to 11 people.
The anti-government protests, largely fueled by the middle and upper classes, pose one of the biggest threats to the country’s leaders. Protests of this scale have not been seen in Iran since the 2009 Green Movement brought millions to the street.