Human Rights Watch criticizes U.N. for election of Iran to Commission on the Status of Women

NEW YORK — Human Rights Watch has criticized the United Nation’s nomination of Iran to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, citing the country’s unfortunate records of women’s rights.

On its website, Human Rights Watch listed a number of reactionary Iranian laws that target women. For example, Iranian law allows girls to marry at the age of 13 and boys at the age of 15. There are also widespread travel restrictions targeting women and women’s rights campaigners have been systematically targeted by the government.

Human Rights Watch also criticized the way the U.N. nominations were submitted, saying that elections to U.N. bodies are usually conducted through competitive voting among Member States, but last week, the 54 Member States of the U.N. Economic and Social Council broke protocol and held uncompetitive elections.

Human Rights Watch also noted that the result was undeserved awards to abusive governments, particularly Iran, noting that U.N. delegations should not give credibility to abusive countries by rewarding them with human rights positions and stressed that their records must now be subject to further scrutiny. In the future, U.N. Member States should avoid voting for abusive governments whenever possible and insist on competitive elections for all positions. Anything less, argued Human Rights Watch, undermines the human rights standing of United Nations bodies.