UNITED NATIONS — Iran failed to win a seat Wednesday on the board of the new UN agency to promote equality for women after strong opposition from the United States and human rights groups to Teheran's treatment of women.
Iran, which recently sentenced 43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani to death by stoning for adultery, had been among the 10 nations on an uncontested slate put forward by Asian nations for elections to the board of UN Women until East Timor announced its candidacy in recent days.
In the election by the 54-nation UN Economic and Social Council, Iran got the lowest number of votes of the 11 Asian nations vying for 10 seats on UN Women's board. Iran received just 19 votes compared to 36 for East Timor, which broke from 24 years of Indonesian occupation in 1999 and declared independence in 2002.
US Ambassador Susan Rice welcomed the result, saying "we've made no secret that Iran joining the board of UN Women would have been an inauspicious start to that board ... and we think it was a very good outcome today."
Some rights groups were also upset that Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive and are barred from many facilities used by men; Libya, where Moammar Gadhafi's regime indefinitely locks up women suspected of violating moral codes in "social rehabilitation" facilities; and Congo, where rape is widely used as a weapon of war, won uncontested seats on the board.