WTF? Kim Jong-il appointed to UN Conference on Disarmament. Canada reacts.

Frankly, I think Trey Parker and Mat Stone really had it all figured out some time ago.


Is Canada’s denouncement of North Korean UN appointment enough?


North Korean leader Kim Jong-il waves upon his visit to the Songlin Steel Complex in North Korea, in this undated picture released by North Korea’s official news agency KCNA on April 25, 2011. Reuters/KCNA

Jun 30, 2011 – 6:12 PM ET

By Tobi Cohen

OTTAWA — Canada ought to go a step beyond simply denouncing the ironic appointment of North Korea to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, a leading foreign policy expert said Thursday.

Fen Hampson, the director of Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa, suggested Canada temporarily withdraw from the conference as a symbol of dissent.

Given North Korea’s track record on nuclear proliferation, at the very least Canada should launch an internal review of the conference which he described as a “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” under the leadership of So Se Pyong.

“This is kind of beyond the pale,” Hampson said. “North Korea has clearly shown that it doesn’t play by the rules when it comes to arms control and the obligations of member states.”

Hampson said it wouldn’t be the first time Canada withdrew its UN ambassador under similar circumstances.

Canada pulled out of the Durban II conference on racism in Geneva in 2009 and has already vowed to boycott the next one in September. Canada was among several countries to walk out of the first event in 2001 after Iran and others ganged up on Israel.

Hampson made the comments after Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird rejected the appointment and urged North Korea to pass the opportunity on to a country with policies more in line with the conference’s stated mission.

“The fact that it gets a turn chairing a United Nations committee focused on disarmament is unacceptable, given the North Korean regime’s efforts in the exact opposite direction,” Baird said in a statement.

“We call on North Korea to pass the chair on to a credible country that will advance the disarmament agenda within the UN.”

Baird said Canada will be “reviewing” its participation on the committee, but his admonishment was in sharp contrast to the warm words Canada’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva had for his Korean counterpart — raising questions about whether the minister’s position on the appointment had emerged as an afterthought.

Delivering his farewell address to the disarmament conference on Tuesday, Marius Grinius not only followed protocol by “welcoming” his North Korean counterpart’s appointment, but spoke fondly of his recollections of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

“It is appropriate that my last statement in open plenary take place under your presidency,” Grinius said.

“Prior to Geneva, I had the privilege of being the ambassador to the Republic of Korea with concurrent cross-accreditation to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In Pyongyang, I was fortunate to have various opportunities to exchange views with high-level government officials, senior military representatives, party cadres and academics.”

That said, he also noted the conference had become ineffectual in recent years and suggested it was on the verge of disbanding altogether.

So Se Pyong was named president of the Geneva-based group dedicated to promoting global nuclear disarmament earlier this week.

The position is allocated on a rotating basis to all 65 member states, but critics have said the rules need to change to prevent countries with records that are so diametrically opposed to the group’s mission from assuming the leadership.

North Korea pulled out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003 after violating it and went on to conduct its first nuclear bomb test three years later. The country is believed to have stockpiled up to eight nuclear warheads.

With files from Steven Edwards

Postmedia News


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