U.S.: Iran’s Role in Arms Treaty Conference ‘Undermines the Credibility of the United Nations’ (CNS) CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE) By Patrick Goodenough 07/16/12)
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(CNSNews.com) – Nine days after Iran was elected to a body overseeing
a United Nations conference negotiating a global arms trade treaty,
the Obama administration responded on Thursday, reprimanding members
of the world body for elevating a weapons proliferating regime to the
The response came after several days of criticism over the latest
leadership post to be handed to a government that habitually defies
international norms. Iran was selected on July 3 as one of 14 vice-
presidents of a month-long U.N. conference in New York, aimed at
hammering out a global conventional arms trade treaty.
Breaking its silence on the matter, the administration on Thursday
used a speech to the conference to criticize the move, and the U.S.
Mission to the U.N. followed up with a separate statement.
“Iran’s longstanding record of weapons proliferation, illicit nuclear
activities, and gross human rights abuses properly disqualifies it
from serving in any such position in the United Nations,” U.S. envoy
Donald Mahley told the gathering.
“At a time when Iran is violating U.N. Security Council obligations,
including by helping rearm Hezbollah in Lebanon and providing weapons
to the Assad regime to use to slaughter its own people, this
selection makes a mockery of this conference’s underlying purposes
and undermines the credibility of the United Nations,” he added.
Mahley, who serves as special negotiator for nonproliferation, said
Iran was also misrepresenting its role at the meeting, “implying it
secured its election on the basis of their record on international
peace and security. The United States rejects the legitimacy of
Iran’s claimed capacity to play a credible role in this conference.”
As reported earlier, Iranian media played up the appointment, with
Tehran Times stating that Iran “is assisting the president of the
Arms Trade Treaty Conference in the general conduct of the business
of the conference” while the Iranian Students’ News Agency said that
Iran was “elected as the deputy” of the conference.
Shortly after Mahley delivered his speech, U.S. Mission spokesman
Mark Kornblau issued a statement on the issue, calling Iran’s
“Iran was selected to run on a closed slate of candidates put forward
by the Asia group, of which the United States is not a member,” he
said. (Three slots were earmarked for Asia, and Asia put forward
three countries – Iran, South Korea and Japan.)
“The U.S. has argued repeatedly and forcefully that countries like
Iran that are under Security Council sanctions for weapons
proliferation or massive human-rights abuses should be barred from
any formal or ceremonial positions in U.N. bodies,” Kornblau
continued. “It is incumbent upon regional groups to enforce this
common-sense principle. We regret that on this occasion, the Asia
group did not do so.”
Kornblau also said that the U.S. had in the past “successfully fought
to deny Iran decision-making roles in various U.N. bodies,” citing as
examples the effort in the spring of 2010 to thwart a Iranian bid for
a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) and later that year to
deny Iran a place on the executive board of the new agency promoting
the equality of women, U.N. Women.
“We strongly believe that the U.N. must reform the outdated
procedures and elections practices that allow pariah states to
participate in completely inappropriate ways in parts of the U.N.
system,” he added.
Iran’s departure from the HRC election in 2010 came at a price: The
Asia group, under pressure to reverse the nomination, secured Iran’s
agreement to pull out, in exchange for support from its Asian
partners for a seat on another U.N. rights body, the Commission on
the Status of Women (CSW).
Just days later, Iran duly got a seat on the CSW, despite an appeal
by hundreds of Iranian women’s rights activists, who told the U.N.
Tehran would use its position “to curtail progress and the
advancement of women.”
Neither the U.S. nor any other country objected or called for a
recorded vote, so Iran was “elected” to the position “by acclamation.”
The custom at the U.N. of regional groups putting forward closed
slates – submitting the same number of countries as there are seats
available for that group – has long been condemned by critics who say
the absence of competition makes a mockery of the “election” process.
Closed slates have enabled countries like Cuba, Libya and Saudi
Arabia to get seats on the HRC notwithstanding human rights records
at home that draw widespread criticism.
In the most recent such step, the Africa group last week put forward
a clean slate of five candidates for five seats on the HRC earmarked
for African countries, ahead of elections later this year. One of the
five is Sudan – despite the fact that President Omar al-Bashir has
been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes,
crimes against humanity and genocide, arising from the conflict in
Unless an additional African country is persuaded to submit a
candidacy and make the “election” an actual contest, Bashir’s regime
is all but assured of a seat on the U.N.’s top human rights body.
(copyright 1998-2012 Cybercast News Service 07/16/12)
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