Indonesia abstains to champion dialogue as UN expels Iran from women’s commission

The resolution came after months of protests that were triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody after she was arrested for violating the country’s strict dress code for women.

A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil

A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil

The Jakarta Post


December 21, 2022

JAKARTA – Indonesia has abstained a recent resolution that expelled Iran from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), saying that the resolution was proposed without exhausting all efforts to improve the situation in Iran, including dialogue.

On Wednesday, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted a draft resolution proposed by the United States to remove Iran from the women’s rights body for the remainder of its 2022-2026 membership term.

The resolution was adopted in a recorded vote of 29 for and eight against, with 16 abstentions.

Human rights and humanitarian affairs director Achsanul Habib from Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry said the US had proposed the recent resolution even though all avenues had not been exhausted, including direct dialogue with Iran.

Habib said Indonesia had decided to abstain in the interest of the nation and its bilateral ties, but also because Indonesia wanted to push global consistency in foreign policy by prioritizing dialogue.

He added that the UN as an institution should not be used to judge countries and expel them from its bodies and agencies if members disliked a particular country, pointing to the suspension of Russia from the UN Human Rights Council in April this year.

“If this pattern continues, it will only divide the UN,” Habib said on Friday, stressing that the world’s countries had created the UN as a forum to discuss a multitude of world issues.

“There are matters that we are not aligned with that has happened in developed countries, but we don’t propose that they be expelled from debates,” he added.

For Indonesia’s part, Habib said, the country was continuing to pursue bilateral dialogue with Iran and that during one dialogue, Indonesia had raised its concern that Iran needed to show commitment to human rights, including women’s rights.

He said expelling Iran from the CSW only reduced the number of forums available for dialogue with Iran, and that excluding countries from dialogue would not contribute to solving issues.

Wave of protests

The resolution adopted on Wednesday came after months of protests in Iran that were triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody on Sept. 16 after she was arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women.

Iranian authorities have since arrested thousands of protesters and handed down 11 death sentences to protesters, according to AFP.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement published on Wednesday that the vote to remove Iran from the CSW sent “an unmistakable message” of support from around the world to the Iranian people protesting against the country’s authoritarian regime.

“The United States is proud to have worked with ECOSOC partners to remove Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women, a body whose values and mission the regime makes a mockery of. The United States reiterates our unwavering support for the people of Iran,” Blinken said in the statement.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani slammed the UN resolution expelling Iran from the CSW, calling it a political scheme that lacked legal credibility. He called the resolution “biased move” by the US against Iran that sought to impose unilateral demands on the country and ignore electoral procedures at international institutions.

“Removing a legal member of the CSW is a political heresy, rids the international organization of its credibility and sets a precedent unilaterally for future exploitations of the body,” Kanaani said in a statement published on Thursday on the ministry’s website.

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