By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -The United States will try to remove Iran from the 45-member U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) over the government's denial of women's rights and brutal crackdown on protests, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said on Wednesday.
Iran is just starting a four-year term on the commission, which meets annually every March and aims to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women.
"The United States believes that no nation that systematically abuses the rights of women and girls should play a role in any international or United Nations body charged with protecting these very same rights," Harris said in a statement.
Iran has been gripped by protests since the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody last month. The unrest has turned into a popular revolt by Iranians from all layers of society, posing one of the boldest challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution.
Iran has blamed its foreign enemies and their agents for the unrest.
"Iran has demonstrated through its denial of women's rights and brutal crackdown on its own people that it is unfit to serve on this Commission," Harris said.
The United States and Albania held an informal U.N. Security Council meeting on Wednesday, putting a spotlight on protests in Iran sparked by the death of a young woman in police custody. The meeting aimed to look for ways to promote credible, independent investigations into Iranian human rights abuses.
Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and Iranian-born actress and activist Nazanin Boniadi both spoke at the meeting.
Iran's U.N. Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani accused the United States on Wednesday of trying to interfere in Iran's domestic affairs. He wrote to U.N. states earlier this week to urge them not to attend the meeting.
"Iran has consistently rejected the politicization of human rights issues and manipulation of the UN system by certain states to advance their short-sighted political objectives," Iravani told reporters.
Iran's U.N. mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the U.S. bid to oust it from the CSW.
Members of the CSW are elected by the 54-member U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which promotes international cooperation on economic, social, cultural, educational, health and related issues.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Ismail Shakil and Cynthia Osterman)