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Iran faces opposition in UN Women board vote

Iran faces opposition in UN Women board vote

Iran, which still carries out death sentences by stoning for adultery, will face opposition for a previously uncontested seat on the board of the new U.N. agency to promote equality for women.
Iran had been among the 10-nations on an uncontested slate put forward by Asian nations for Wednesday's elections to the board of UN Women until East Timor announced its candidacy, diplomats said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The candidacy of East Timor, which broke from 24 years of Indonesian occupation in 1999 and declared independence in 2002, means the 54-nation U.N. Economic and Social Council will now have a contested slate of 11 countries vying for 10 seats and that Iran is no longer a shoe-in for the seat.
Some rights groups are also upset that Saudi Arabia, Libya and Congo are on uncontested slates and are likely to join the governing body.
Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi said Wednesday that "membership of countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia on this board is like a joke."
The recent sentence of stoning to death for adultery against 43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has raised an international outcry, embarrassing Iran. A resolution adopted by the General Assembly last year expressed "deep concern" at Iran's increasing use of executions, death by stoning, torture, flogging and amputations, and its increasing discrimination against religious, ethnic and other minorities.
"We are relieved that the Asia group in the end is not offering Iran a free pass to the board of UN Women," Philippe Bolopion, U.N. advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, told AP on Tuesday.
"We have concerns with many countries who are going to be on the board, but what sets Iran apart is not just its dismal record on women's rights but also the fact that it's aggressively going after women's rights advocates who dare to speak out against their discriminatory laws," Bolopion said.
The General Assembly resolution adopted in July that merged four U.N. bodies dealing with women's issues into a single agency with greater clout to represent half the world's population calls for a 41-member executive board, with 35 members chosen by regional groups and six representing donor nations.