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U.S., Canada Boycott Disarmament Forum
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Kelsey Davenport

Citing Iran’s violations of UN Security Council resolutions calling on Tehran to end certain nuclear activities, U.S. and Canadian officials announced last month that the heads of their delegations at the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD) would be boycotting the body while Iran presides over it from May 26 to June 23.

Presidency of the CD rotates alphabetically among the 65 member states. The position is largely ceremonial because the CD has failed to reach consensus on a program of work for the past 15 years. (See ACT, December 2012.)

In a May 13 press release, Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said that Iran’s presidency of the disarmament forum is “highly inappropriate” and the United States would not be represented at the ambassadorial level during Iran’s term. She said the United States believes that any country under UN sanctions for weapons proliferation should be “barred from any formal or ceremonial positions in UN bodies.”

The following day, Rick Roth, spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, said Canada would join the U.S. boycott. In his statement, Roth said Iran is “working directly against disarmament goals” and the principles of the CD.

A spokesman for the Iranian Mission to the United Nations defended Iran’s presidency of the forum in a May 14 statement. Alireza Miryousefi said that it is Iran’s right under the “established practice and rules of procedure” to chair the CD.

Canada boycotted the CD in 2011 for the four weeks that North Korea presided over the forum, saying that Pyongyang’s noncompliance with its disarmament obligations undermined the work of the body. The United States did not join the Canadian boycott.

Posted: June 3, 2013