Today, Iran officially becomes a member of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. Only three days ago, the U.N. General Assembly voted to suspend Libya’s membership on the U.N. Human Rights Council in a desperate bid to save the Council’s tattered reputation and itself.
But not a single state, including the United States, has indicated anything but smooth sailing for today’s membership of Iran on the U.N.’s top women’s rights body.
The double-talk surrounding the Libyan maneuver was breathtaking. It was only nine months ago, after getting to know Qaddafi over four decades, that the General Assembly had elected Libya to serve on the U.N.’s top human rights body. And Libya still serves on the U.N. Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the U.N. Commission on Information, and the Executive Board of U.N. Women.
The U.N. has no intention of really cleaning house, since there would be no baby left with the bath water. Here is just a glimpse of the authority figures that the UN system currently has in place to run its global operations on human rights, women’s equality, protection of children and refugees, free flow of information, social and democratic development and crime prevention.
U.N. Human Rights Council
Mission: "…responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all….”
Members: Saudi Arabia, China, Vice-Presidents: Cuba, Angola
U.N. Commission on the Status of Women
Mission: “…set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide."
Members: The Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran
U.N. Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
Mission: “…set…out global strategy to prevent crime and promote stable criminal justice systems...and improving the efficiency and fairness of criminal justice administration systems."
Members: Libya, Russia, Sudan, Iran, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan
Mission: “…support, address and contribute to gender equality and the empowerment and the advancement of women…”
Members: Executive Board: Libya, Saudi Arabia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, China
U.N. Economic and Social Council
Mission: “…responsible for: promoting higher standards of living, full employment, and economic and social progress…encouraging universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms…"
Members: Saudi Arabia
U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development
Mission: "...to promote dialogue and build partnerships for sustainable development with major groups include[ing] women, youth, indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations, local authorities, workers and trade unions, business and industry, the scientific community, and farmers…"
Members: Angola, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia
U.N. Commission on Social Development
Mission: “….promoting full employment and decent work for all...Improving public sector effectiveness....National and international cooperation for social development..."
U.N. Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations
Mission: “…The consideration of applications for consultative status [with the UN]…submitted by NGOs…”
Members: Sudan, Cuba, Pakistan, China
U.N. Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT)
Mission: “…promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all…security of tenure and equal access to economic resources for all, with a specific focus on gender equality.”
Members: Governing Council: Iran
U.N. Committee on Information
Mission: “To promote the establishment of a new, more just and more effective world information and communication order…based on the free circulation and wider and better-balanced dissemination of information…”
Members: China, Libya, Kazakhstan, Iran
U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Mission: “….advocate for the protection of children's rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential…”
Members: Executive Board: Sudan, China
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
Mission: “…safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees.”
Members: Executive Committee: Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan
U.N. World Food Programme
Mission: “advocate policies, strategies and operations that directly benefit the poor and hungry."
Members: Executive Board: Sudan
Anne Bayefsky is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.