North Korea becomes UN disarmament president amid criticism

This year, North Korea conducted a series of ballistic missile tests, also banned by UN Security Council resolutions, and appears to be preparing to conduct a new nuclear test for the first time since 2017.

He became chairman of the Conference on Disarmament because its 65 members rotate in alphabetical order.

“The DPRK remains committed to promoting global peace and disarmament and attaches great importance to the work of the conference,” Ambassador Han Tae-song said at a meeting in Geneva, noting that it was “an honor and a privilege” to assume this role.

The nuclear-armed state launched several missiles last week, including one believed to be the world’s largest ICBM.

Western envoys took turns condemning Pyongyang’s actions on Thursday, with Australia calling them “destabilizing.”

However, according to witnesses, they did not heed the call to leave the rally, as demanded by dozens of NGOs. Instead, some diplomatic missions sent representatives at a lower level than the ambassadors who normally had to attend.

The general reaction from the floor was regarded by observers as mild compared to the reaction to the Syrian presidency of the same body in 2018. During this meeting, Canada read out testimonies from survivors of the chemical attack in Syria in protest.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, which monitors the activities of the global organization, said the North Korean presidency would “seriously undermine the image and credibility of the United Nations.”

Expectations for this series of meetings, chaired by Pyongyang, were in any case low. The Conference on Disarmament, the world’s only multilateral disarmament forum, has not reached agreement since the signing of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996.

“This can only underline the irrelevance of the KR in the current context,” Mark Fino, an expert at the Geneva Center for Security Policy, said of the role of North Korea.

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