The United Nations has elected Saudi Arabia – dubbed by the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch as “the world’s most misogynistic regime” – to a four-year term as a member of the Commission on the Status of Women. This UN agency is “exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.”

  • Discrimination against women is systematic in law and common practice.
  • Every Saudi woman must have a male guardian who makes all critical decisions on her behalf, including travel, marriage, even visits to the doctor.
  • Saudi Arabia bans women from driving cars.
  • Women, under Shari’ah law, are required to be fully covered except for eyes and hands.
  • Freedom of opinion and religion does not apply.

Saudi Arabia, a fundamentalist Islamic monarchy, is now one of 45 countries that will play an instrumental role in “promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women” – according to the UN.

“Why did the U.N. choose the world’s leading promoter of gender inequality to sit on its gender equality commission?” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “It’s absurd – and morally reprehensible. This is a black day for women’s rights, and for all human rights.”

“Every Saudi woman must have a male guardian who makes all critical decisions on her behalf, controlling a woman’s life from her birth until death,” said Hillel Neuer, director of UN Watch. “Saudi Arabia also bans women from driving cars,” the Guardian reported. Saudi women conduct silent walking protest over right to drive. “Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” Mr Neuer said. “It’s absurd.”

At least five EU states voted in a secret ballot for the Saudis to serve a four-year term on the commission, according to Mr Neuer. 

Helen Clark, former administrator of the UN Development Programme and prime minister of New Zealand, said in response to news of the election of the Saudis to the commission: “It’s important to support those in the country who are working for change for women. Things are changing, but slowly.”

So why not invite all dictator in human rights commission so that they “can learn”? This is perverted thinking indeed. Invite the fox to safe the hens- very smart- never worked anywhere.

Saudi women feel betrayed by the UN. A self-described Saudi woman pursuing a doctorate in international human rights law in Australia tweeted the following:

“Today the UN sent a message that women’s rights can be sold out for petro-dollars and politics,” said Neuer, “and it let down millions of female victims worldwide who look to the world body for protection.”

Human rights

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia was also recently re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council, allowing Saudi leadership to influence, oversee and vote on numerous mechanisms, resolutions and initiatives affecting the rights of women worldwide, including:

  • Elimination of discrimination against women
  • Equal participation of women in political and public affairs
  • Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice
  • Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
  • Accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women
  • The right to a nationality: women’s equal nationality rights in law and in practice
  • Addressing the impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence in the context of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls

The only good news

Thanks to the United States calling for a vote, Saudi Arabia was not elected by acclamation, but instead received the least votes of any other country: 47 out of 54 votes cast, even though there was no competition given that there was an equal amount of competitors for available seats.

Here were the results of the elections, with all 54 ECOSOC members voting:

African States
Algeria: 54
Comoros: 53
Congo: 53
Ghana: 53
Kenya: 53

Asian & Pacific States
Iraq: 54
Japan: 53
Republic of Korea: 54
Saudi Arabia: 47
Turkmenistan: 53

Latin American States
Ecuador: 54
Haiti: 54
Nicaragua: 52

It was a secret ballot, but the math tells us that at least 15 of the following democratic member states of the U.N. Economic and Social Council voted to elect Saudi Arabia to the U.N.’s women’s rights commission:

  • Andorra
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Norway
  • Republic of Korea
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • UK
  • USA