News / Middle East

Iran Loses Bid for Seat on UN Women's Agency Board

Iran Loses Bid for Seat on UN Women's Agency Board
Iran Loses Bid for Seat on UN Women's Agency Board

Iran lost its bid on Wednesday for a seat on the executive board of the new U.N. Women's Agency.  The new agency will seek to promote and protect women's rights around the world.

The vote took place in the U.N.'s 54-member Economic and Social Council, or ECOSOC.

Forty-four countries from across the U.N. membership were vying for 41 seats on the U.N. Women's executive board.  Thirty-five of the seats were allocated regionally and six were reserved for major financial contributors.

The new agency, headed by former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, merges four U.N. agencies that deal with women's issues into one entity.  It will have a start-up budget of a-half-a-billion dollars.

In three of the groups -- Africa, Western Europe and others, and the financial contributors -- there were as many candidates as vacancies, so those countries were approved by acclamation.

But in the Asian category, where until recently there were only 10 candidates for 10 seats, Timor-Leste put forth its candidacy last week and turned the vote into a contest in which Iran fall short.  Iran received only 19 of the 54 votes cast; at least 28 were required.

The United States won an uncontested seat on the board because it is a major financial contributor to women's programs at the United Nations.

Susan Rice, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations (file photo)
Susan Rice, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations (file photo)

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters that the results of the election will allow the new agency to be launched with a strong foundation.  She was asked what she thought of Iran's failure to win a seat and Saudi Arabia's successful bid.

"I am not going to deny that there were several countries that are going to join the board of U.N. Women that have less than stellar records on women's rights and, indeed, human rights," she said. "But what happened today in the ECOSOC Council, when we had a vote on a handful of slates, and one of them was, of course, the contested Asian slate, where Iran had sought a seat on the board of U.N. women, they lost, and they lost handily."  

"And the slate that was selected, including the late candidacy of Timor-Leste, is one that is largely comprised of countries that are committed to women's rights and have a good record of support for women's rights and human rights and we welcome that," she added.

Human rights groups had opposed Iran's candidacy.  "We have concerns with several countries that are on the board, but what really set Iran apart is that not only do they have internally a dismal record on women's rights, but also the fact that they are aggressively trying to crack down on the women's movement inside Iran," said U.N. Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch, Philippe Bolopion.

"They have been harassing, they have been sometimes arresting and going after women in Iran who speak out against the discriminations enshrined in the law," he added.

As for Saudi Arabia's seat on the executive board in the contributor's category, Bolopion said countries should not be able to buy their way onto the board.  But he said he hoped that having a seat on the U.N. Women's Agency would bring more scrutiny on the deeply conservative kingdom's restrictions on women.

The 41 countries elected to the executive board will hold terms of two or three years each, determined in a lottery after the vote.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs