Shirine Ebadi said admitting either Iran or Saudi Arabia would be "a joke"

Iran has failed to obtain a seat on the board of a new UN super-agency for women's rights, after fierce opposition from the US and human rights activists.

However, Saudi Arabia, which also faced protests from rights groups, secured a seat.

Iran had initially been guaranteed a seat as there were no competitors, but East Timor later proposed itself and won the place instead.

The new agency, known as UN Women, merges four existing bodies.

Human Rights Watch had said that admitting either Iran or Saudi Arabia would send the wrong signal to women around the world given their poor rights records.

Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi said that membership of countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia on the board was "like a joke".

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