Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK Ambassador So’ Se-p’yo’ng [So Se Pyong] was appointed to the rotating presidency of UN Conference on Disarmament during its regular plenary meeting on 28 June [Tuesday]. So’ concurrently serves as the DPRK Ambassador to Switzerland and Permanent Representative to the UN Mission Geneva, in addition to holding several nonresident ambassadorial positions. Upon his appointment, So remarked that:
He planned to devote discussions under his presidency to the revitalization and strengthening of the Conference on Disarmament and he would consult will all interested delegations who had ideas on the programme of work. He believed that the Conference on Disarmament had the capacity to deliver concrete results when political will and concerted efforts were demonstrated by members to negotiate multilateral disarmament treaties. He was very much committed to the Conference and during his presidency he welcomed any sort of constructive proposals that strengthened the work and credibility of the Conference on Disarmament. He was ready to work closely with all members to provide the grounds for strengthening their work. As president, he would be guided by the Rules of Procedure and take into account the position of each delegation to find common ground on substantive issues and procedural matters as well. With their support and cooperation, he would do everything in his capacity to move the Conference on Disarmament forward.
So’ was congratulated on his appointment by the representatives of several countries including PRC (China), Nigeria and Myanmar (Burma). In farewell remarks, shis predecessor, Marcus Grinius talked about his prior experience traveling to the DPRK. However the foreign minister of Grinius’ home country of Canada, John Baird, expressed his disapproval. According to a blog on National Post :
“The fact that it gets a turn chairing a United Nations committee focused on disarmament is unacceptable, given the North Korean regime’s efforts in the exact opposite direction,” Baird said in a statement.
“We call on North Korea to pass the chair on to a credible country that will advance the disarmament agenda within the UN.”
Baird said Canada will be “reviewing” its participation on the committee, but his admonishment was in sharp contrast to the warm words Canada’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva had for his Korean counterpart — raising questions about whether the minister’s position on the appointment had emerged as an afterthought.
Delivering his farewell address to the disarmament conference on Tuesday, Marius Grinius not only followed protocol by “welcoming” his North Korean counterpart’s appointment, but spoke fondly of his recollections of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.
“It is appropriate that my last statement in open plenary take place under your presidency,” Grinius said.
“Prior to Geneva, I had the privilege of being the ambassador to the Republic of Korea with concurrent cross-accreditation to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In Pyongyang, I was fortunate to have various opportunities to exchange views with high-level government officials, senior military representatives, party cadres and academics.”
That said, he also noted the conference had become ineffectual in recent years and suggested it was on the verge of disbanding altogether.
So Se Pyong was named president of the Geneva-based group dedicated to promoting global nuclear disarmament earlier this week.
The position is allocated on a rotating basis to all 65 member states, but critics have said the rules need to change to prevent countries with records that are so diametrically opposed to the group’s mission from assuming the leadership.