Iran will be one of the council's 45 member states, including Israel, and is among 11 new countries starting their four-year term.
"The vote happened so long ago that everyone just forgets that the changing of the guard is happening now," said Anne Bayefsky, a Canadian political science professor who heads the monitoring group Eye on the UN.
"Iran's presence will be a real affront to women, but it will also show how the UN is back to business-as-usual despite the great fanfare this week surrounding the action it took on Libya," she said, directing her criticism at UN General Assembly President Joseph Deiss of Switzerland, who said he was "proud" to have chaired the session in which Libya was suspended from the human rights body.
Bayefsky's group points to numerous other examples of what it describes as misplaced UN "authority figures", including Cuba and Belarus which sit on the UN Commission on Sustainable Development; Somalia and Sudan which are members of the executive committee of the UN's refugee agency; and Iran, Kazakhstan and China which sit alongside Libya on the UN Committee on Information.
According to Bayefsky, UN officials say agencies must take into account the principle of equitable regional representation when offering membership spots, but a number of regional groups abuse that privilege by agreeing among themselves to offer only one candidate for any given position — as in the recent case with Iran.
"The UN has no intention of really cleaning house," she concluded.
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