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un elects saudi arabia to women’s rights commission

In April 2017, Saudi Arabia was elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women for a 4-year term from 2018-2022.

UN Watch condemned the election of "the world’s most misogynistic regime, to a UN agency that, according to its website, is “exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.” 

“Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “It’s absurd — and despicable.”

Saudi discrimination against women is gross and systematic in law and in practice. 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. Saudi Arabia bans women from driving cars. 

Why did the U.N. choose the world's leading promoter of gender inequality to sit on its gender equality commission? The vote was by secret ballot. However, because only seven of the 54 ECOSOC states did not vote for Saudi Arabia, this means at least five of the following 12 EU states on the council did vote to elect the Saudis: Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, or the UK. 

UN Watch has called on all EU governments to declare how they voted, and for their parliamentarians to speak out.