The UN Economic and Social Council (ESC) Wednesday voted to remove Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Of the 54 current ESC members, 29 voted in favor of removal, 8 voted against and 16 abstained. Iran was to serve its term from 2022-2026.In early November, the US promised to introduce a draft resolution in response to the government of Iran acting to “increasingly suppress the human rights of women and girls.” The resolution submitted on Wednesday pointed to the CSW’s role of promoting gender equality and empowering women. The US representative stated, “it [the CSW] cannot do its important work if it is being undermined from within.”New Zealand voted in favor of removal and further suggested a UN investigation into women’s rights abuses in Iran. Other countries, while voting in favor, struck a more moderate tone. The representative from Guatemala noted, “No state has an impeccable record in gender equality and women’s empowerment, but belonging to the Commission means acknowledging that as a problem and committing to address it.”Iran accused the US and its allies of acting in an unlawful and openly hostile manner. The nation’s representatives see the resolution as another attempt to further isolate the country from the international community and economy. Iran also accused the US of hypocrisy, saying the US, “remained silent on Israel’s violations of Palestinian women’s rights.”Of the eight countries that voted against removal, several belong to the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the UN. The group was founded in March 2021, shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Many members have poor human rights records of their own. Russia, who voted against the resolution, also condemned the alleged hypocrisy of the US and EU. The Russian representative cited government actions, some violent, to quell protests in the US in relation to the death of George Floyd. Venezuela, who is not a current member of the ESC, but does belong to the Group of Friends, stated the draft resolution sought to, “impose a moral superiority that does not exist.” Russia requested a legal opinion on the draft resolution. However, no legal opinion was made available before the vote.Women’s rights are an intense focus of interest in Iran. The September 2022 death of Mahsa Amini sparked protests across the country. Amini was reportedly beaten and killed while in “morality” police custody for improperly wearing her headscarf. Since her death, as many as 350 people have been killed and 1,400 have been arrested. Additionally, men who protest in support of women have been publicly executed.

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