GENEVA, May 25, 2018 – After delivering a speech yesterday in Geneva on disarmament, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres expressed the hope that Syria’s presidency of the UN-backed Conference on Disarmament, starting on Monday, won’t have a “negative impact” on the global forum that produced the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Translation of UN transcript from French-language interview:

Journalist: It is difficult to convey to the public that a country accused in of using chemical weapons is in the same time heading the Conference on Disarmament, even though it has been paralyzed for twenty years. How can this be explained? Does this not discredit the UN?

Secretary-General: Well, that’s a subject on which the Secretary-General has no power. The presidency of these entities follows a rotation principle, over which I have no influence. I understand your concern and I want to say something that can help a little. It is the fact that in the coming months the important work will be the work of the [subsidiary bodies] which will discuss some essential, substantive aspects. This is not the job of the presidency at the global level. And the presidency of these groups belongs to other different countries. So I hope that what you have mentioned will not have a negative impact on the work of the [Conference on Disarmament], which is essential.

More from UN Watch:

Transcript: Syria denies chemical weapons attacks, defends presidency of UN disarmament forum

Syria to chair UN disarmament forum on chemical & nuclear weapons; watchdog calls on US & EU to walk out

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