Canada and North Korea attack each other in UN debate

Canada and North Korea attacked each other in a UN debate yesterday, after Ottawa objected to Pyongyang’s presidency this month of the UN’s arms control forum.  North Korea falsely accused Canada of boycotting Durban I.  See details below.

Meanwhile, UN Watch, the organization that first reported on and protested North Korea’s presidency, will be organizing a series of protest events on Tuesday in Geneva next to the Conference on Disarmament, as North Korea begins its term. The UN Watch events will include:

  • Press conference at the UN together with North Korean defector Kim Joo-il, in cooperation with the group North Korean Gulag
  • Silent vigil in the public square facing the UN, featuring drawings of a North Korean concentration camp hand-made by survivors
  • Publication of a protest statement by an international coalition of 25 NGOs

Following are excerpts from yesterday’s UN summary of a GA meeting in New York. A video of the debate can be found here.  The Canadian intervention begins at the 1hr 52 min mark and ends at 1 hr 60.


Canada’s statement:

MASUD HUSAIN ( Canada) stressed the need to reform the methodology for selecting the leadership of the Conference, whose membership should be a privilege. One of the world’s worst offenders should not serve as President. So far, this year’s members had discussed the four core agenda items. But the Conference’s mandate was to negotiate, and not simply to discuss. Canada would aim to renew that work in August after North Korea was no longer the President. In light of the continued stalemate, efforts to follow up on last September’s meeting must be pursued in earnest. The Assembly’s sixty-sixth session should consider how the Conference’s work should be pursued. Members should think outside the box. A fissile material cut-off treaty was Canada’s top priority as the next disarmament instrument, and he would like to see those negotiations commence soon in the Conference, but one country was blocking them. Starting an external negotiating process was not a reflection of the Conference’s failure, but could be a necessary alternative. With many nuclear-weapon States declaring moratoriums on fissile material production for nuclear weapons, now was the time to start negotiations. Canada had no preference as to the modalities and place, nor was it opposed to convening a fourth special session on disarmament.  (For full text, click here.)

North Korea’s  interruption:

RI TONG IL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) interrupted the representative of Canada on a point of order. He objected to the fact that the Canadian representative had referred to his nation as “ North Korea” instead of by its official name. He asked the Assembly President to settle that question.

North Korea’s substantive reply:

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, responding to the statement made by Canada’s delegate, said it was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s sovereign right to serve as President of the Conference on Disarmament. Under its rules of procedure, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was obliged to fulfil its role as President. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a United Nations Member State. The Canadian delegate’s remarks were a serious violation of relevant provisions in the Charter. That was not the first time the Canadian delegate had boycotted an international forum. In 2001, Canada was the only country to boycott the anti-racism conference held in Durban. That move had established a practice of boycotting. He strongly condemned Canada’s behaviour. During the post-cold war period, instead of following a path of dialogue and reconciliation, Canada had chosen confrontation.


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