Standing Up for Canadian Values on the World Stage: Canada Boycotts UN Conference on Disarmament Under North Korea’s Presidency

(No. 198 – July 11, 2011 – 1 p.m. ET) John Baird, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, today announced that Canada will temporarily boycott the United Nations Conference on Disarmament to protest North Korea’s term as president.

"Our government has consistently taken a principled approach to dealing with North Korea’s nuclear aspirations. As a result, today we are suspending our participation in the UN Conference on Disarmament.

"North Korea is simply not a credible chair of this UN body. The regime is a major proliferator of nuclear weapons and its non-compliance with its disarmament obligations goes against the fundamental principles of this committee. This undermines the integrity of both the disarmament framework and the UN. Canada will not be party to that.

"Canada will resume its engagement in the Conference on Disarmament following the end of North Korea’s presidency on August 19, 2011.

"Our government received a strong mandate to advance Canada’s values—freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law—on the world stage.

"As the Prime Minister said recently, Canada will no longer simply ‘go along to get along.’ Canada will not hesitate to take principled stands with respect to our foreign policy decisions."

The United Nations Conference on Disarmament, established in 1978, is intended to be the UN’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum. The UN Conference on Disarmament currently has 65 member states, which rotate alphabetically for four-week terms as president.

North Korea’s term as president began on June 28, 2011. Soon thereafter, Minister Baird expressed Canada’s disappointment that a known proliferator and possessor of nuclear weapons now presides over a forum dedicated to advancing disarmament.

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