Should nuclear-proliferating North Korea be president of the UN’s top arms control body? Absolutely not, said UN Watch last summer. The Geneva-based human rights group led a protest of 28 NGOs, leading to a Canadian boycott of the UN-backed Conference on Disarmament.
And now Canada has once again expressed its principled opposition to such offensive appointments. “Canada believes that the credibility of this organization is damaged when the Presidency is assumed by those found by the UN Security Council to be in non-compliance with their non-proliferation obligations,” said Canadian representative Kelly Anderson.
While the U.S. initially said last year that it would not protest the North Korean presidency, a senior official of the Obama Administration has changed that position.
In a major policy speech delivered in January before the Council on Foreign Relations, U.S. ambassador for U.N. reform Joseph Torsella declared that the administration would from now on “assert a common-sense principle across the UN”:
if a member state is under Security Council sanction for weapons proliferation or massive human-rights abuses, it should be barred, plain and simple, from leadership roles like chairmanships in UN bodies. Abusers of international law or norms should not be the public face of the UN.
His speech specifically addressed the CD:
when a rotation results – as it did a few months ago – in North Korea assuming the chairmanship of the Disarmament Conference, bringing the inevitable and appropriate public reaction of “you’ve got to be kidding,” we know we have work to do.
Shouldn’t the US position in New York also be expressed loud and clear in Geneva?