12 May 2010 E-3400/10 WRITTEN QUESTION by Marietje Schaake (ALDE) and Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE) to the Council Subject: Iran elected to UN Commission on women's rights On 28 April, during the 8th and 9th Organisational Session of the UN Economic and Social Council, Iran was elected by acclamation to the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) for a 4‑year term, as stated in the UN press release of 28 April 2010 (http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2010/ecosoc6419.doc.htm). The CSW is, according to its website, ‘dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women’, and its mandate is ‘to evaluate progress, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide’. Iran was elected by acclamation, after no other candidates applied for the two available Asian block positions. The Islamic Republic of Iran has, however, refused to sign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and discrimination against women is codified in its legal system, as well as in executive and cultural institutions. Women lack the ability to choose their husbands, have no independent right to education after marriage, no right to divorce, have no right to child custody and have no protection from violent treatment in public spaces. Moreover, the testimony from women in court counts only for half of that of men, girls aged 13 can marry older men, men can marry up to 4 wives, and punishment for an extramarital affair is often stoning to death (http://www.amnesty.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=11221). According to Iranian law, lashings are required for women judged ‘immodest’. A suntan or darkened skin is ‘sufficient proof’ of such immodesty. Prison guards regularly beat, torture, rape and sexually assault female civil rights protesters. Members of the CSW shape the global agenda for discussions on women's rights issues, and can block the participation of independent women's rights groups in UN forums. What is the Council's and High Representative Ashton's view on Iran's recent election to the CSW? Does the Council agree that this has been a diplomatic victory for Iran, and that it undermines the credibility of the UN? If not, why not? Does the Council agree that Iran's membership is detrimental to women's rights and brings cynicism and misogyny to the international community? If not, why not? Has Iran's membership application for the CSW been discussed in the Council? If not, why not? If so, were other countries from the Asian block approached and/or encouraged to join? If not, why not? What will the Council and High Representative Ashton do in the future to prevent Iran's influence in the CSW, in order to protect women's rights? Please find the answer here.