An independent watchdog is calling on members of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament to boycott the panel in protest over North Korea being pegged for a leadership role.
“Having the North Korean regime of Kim Jong Un preside over global nuclear weapons disarmament will be like putting a serial rapist in charge of a women’s shelter,” Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch, said in a statement. The Geneva-based nongovernmental organization monitors the United Nations.
The U.N. announced Wednesday that North Korea will preside over the 65-nation conference based in Geneva for a one-month rotational period beginning in late May.
Since being established in 1979, the conference has led major arms negotiations, including the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
U.N. Watch says North Korea continues to flout U.N. sanctions and resolutions condemning its nuclear and missile development.
“North Korea is the world’s foremost weapons proliferator. The regime builds its own nuclear weapons in contravention of its treaty commitments. Pyongyang sells missile and atomic know-how to other rogue regimes in blatant violation of U.N. sanctions,” Mr. Neuer said.
North Korea has ramped its missile activity significantly this year. On Tuesday, the regime fired two cruise missiles, in its fifth test of 2022, according to the South Korean military. Kim Jong-un is on pace to far exceed the number of missile tests in 2021.
U.N. Watch also cited Mr. Kim’s rampant human rights abuses as grounds for boycotting the forum.
“This is a country that threatens to attack other U.N. member states with missiles, and that commits atrocities against its own people. Torture and starvation are routine in North Korean political prison camps where an estimated 100,000 people are held in what is one of the world’s most dire human-rights situations,” Mr. Neuer said.
He is calling on U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres to speak out and urged member states to “refuse to send ambassadors to any meeting of their U.N. forum that is being chaired by North Korea.
“If the U.N. seeks to be an institution with a moral compass, it cannot allow the likes of North Korea to direct arms control agencies, and to keep electing the world’s worst abusers on its top human rights body,” Mr. Neuer said.