The North Korean regime, which starves its own people while spending billions on threatening the world with nuclear weapons, has been rewarded by being elected to a leading role in the World Health Organization (WHO).
At the annual gathering of WHO member states, which ended on May 30, Kim Jong Un’s North Korea won a seat on the WHO Executive Board, on a slate with nine other countries.
“What this means is that one of the world’s most horrific regimes is now a part of a group that sets and enforces the standards and norms for the global governance of health care. It is an absurd episode for a key U.N. agency that is in much need of self-reflection and reform,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, an independent non-governmental human rights group in Geneva.
“A seat on the executive board provides North Korea with a vote on the appointment of the WHO’s six regional directors, and potentially on an eventual replacement for Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general now serving his second and final term.
North Korea was elected in a slate with the other nominees by a secret ballot: 123 nations voting yes, 13 abstentions and 6 spoiled ballots; 35 countries were absent. Normally the elections are by consensus, but Russia challenged Ukraine’s nomination, and so a vote was held.
“The right signal from the U.N. to the North Korean regime would be an overdue referral to the International Criminal Court, and a call to investigate and prosecute Kim Jon Un’s heinous crimes against humanity — not an election to an organization that sets the standards for global health,” said Neuer.
Other countries joining the executive board are Australia, Barbados, Cameroon, Comoros, Lesotho, Qatar, Switzerland, Togo and Ukraine.
Neuer added that North Korea will remain part of the WHO’s executive board for at least the next three years, allowing current supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un to influence the WHO’s agency, policies and appointments.
What happened at the @WHO's 76th assembly:
🇹🇼 Taiwan, a leader on public health, barred entryhttps://t.co/SLoGO2ADPl
🇮🇱 Israel, a biotech innovator, singled out for censurehttps://t.co/6kRozE4uHK
🇰🇵 North Korea elected to WHO leadership role https://t.co/SV4AS1P1eB https://t.co/94Neweh5Up pic.twitter.com/hU8kkI7FA2
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) May 31, 2023