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What does the UN think Saudi Arabia can teach us about gender equality?

24 April 2017

4:57 PM

24 April 2017

4:57 PM

In these tricky – not to say dark – times there is one place to which we can always turn for light relief: Geneva. The city itself may be unamusing. But it does play host to the world’s most hilarious organisation – the body which calls itself ‘the UN Human Rights Council’ (UNHRC).

A few days ago, the Council voted to appoint members for the 2018-2022 term of its ‘Commission on the Status of Women’, a UN agency ‘exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.’ Among those appointed to the Commission was that notable supporter of gender equality – Saudi Arabia. Best of all is that – as the excellent UN Watch points out here – at least five EU member states must have voted to put Saudi Arabia on the Commission.

There was a time when moves like these garnered some outrage, or at least comment. So far this one appears not to have done so. Which might be because everyone has too many other things on their minds. Or that everybody thinks Saudi Arabia has been making such leaps and bounds in the realm of gender equality that it can teach the rest of us a thing or two. Or that nobody thinks that the UN Human Rights Council, its ‘Commission on the Status of Women’ or any of its other expensive initiatives matter one jot and know that the whole thing is barmy. Personally I think that the last of these possibilities is the most likely.

But if everybody realises that the UNHRC is the last place in the world where you would go for anything other than a dark laugh, what is the point of countries like ours contributing to it either through financial contributions or sending representatives? Surely we can come up with a better use for the cash? If not, why not just pile it up and burn it? At least that would be a harmless use of everyone’s time and money. Unlike the UNHRC, which is exceptionally costly and consistently harmful.

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