North Korea has temporarily become the leader of the United Nations’ top nuclear disarmament forum.
The state of Pariah was accused earlier this year of testing an intercontinental ballistic missile banned by the United Nations Security Council.
However, due to a change of positions among the members, he took over the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament.
The move quickly drew criticism for the platform’s effectiveness.
Several NGOs urged countries to leave the room, a common form of diplomatic protest. Member states did not do so at Thursday’s meeting, but some countries sent only lower-level representatives.
North Korea conducted a series of missile tests last week, shortly after US President Joe Biden visited its neighbours, South Korea and Japan.
The United Nations has banned North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear weapons testing and imposed stricter sanctions after previous tests.
Held three times a year at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, the Conference on Disarmament is the only permanent multilateral body that negotiates arms and nuclear agreements.
Their top priority is to end the nuclear arms race and stop nuclear war. However, no significant agreement has been reached since 1996.
North Korea will preside over the forum for at least three weeks. Western countries, which imposed several sanctions on Pyongyang at the opening ceremony on Thursday, issued a joint statement condemning North Korea’s aggression this year.
“We remain gravely concerned about the DPRK’s reckless actions, which continue to undermine the very value of the Conference on Disarmament seriously”, said Australia’s ambassador, on behalf of a coalition of countries.
Responding to the appointment, the US said it prompted questions over the forum’s effectiveness.
“It certainly does call that into question when you have a regime like the DPRK in a senior leadership post, a regime that has done as much as any other government around the world to erode the non-proliferation norm,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.