The U.S. on Tuesday walked out of a U.N. disarmament conference in Geneva to protest Venezuela assuming the presidency -- saying that it shows there is "something fundamentally wrong" with how the conference is conducting its business.
U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood said the U.S. was boycotting the Conference on Disarmament in protest of the month-long presidency being given to the regime of Venezuela's disputed president Nicolas Maduro.
“Because the United States continues to see value in the Conference on Disarmament and remains committed to its potential, we are again compelled to take a principled stand in support of this august body’s noble ideals,” he said.
“The United States therefore condemns, in the strongest terms, Venezuela’s presidency of this body while it is represented by members of the illegitimate Maduro regime. As such, we will boycott the CD for the next four weeks -- the duration of Venezuela’s presidency.”
The U.S. and more than 50 other countries recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, where a political and humanitarian crisis has significantly escalated this year after Guaido tried to oust Maudro over disputed elections last year. Maduro has accused the U.S. of trying to oust him as part of a coup by backing Guaido and imposing sanctions on the country.
“Those who sit in Venezuela’s seat today represent the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro, and thus are not speaking on behalf of the Venezuelan people,” Wood said Tuesday. “To participate in the CD under their presidency would lend credibility and legitimacy to this illegitimate, morally bankrupt, economically incompetent, profoundly corrupt, and inhumane regime.”
Reuters reported that Latin American delegations including Argentina, Brazil and Chile stayed away from the Conference, while Syria and Russia criticized what they saw as the politicization of the conference by the U.S.
“We regret that the representative of the United States and its docile allies continue to bring to this forum matters that are outside the mandate of the CD,” Maduro ambassador Jorge Valero told reporters.
Wood was equally scathing about the Conference on Disarmament, which he said was squandering its potential, accusing it of clinging to set ways and repeating the same failed motions every year.
“History has shown that a regime that oppresses its people and blatantly disregards the rule of law at home has contempt for international obligations and norms,” he said. “The CD cannot move forward when held captive under the yoke of illegitimate leadership.”
It is the U.S.’ second such boycott of the disarmament conference. It also walked out of the conference after Syria was given the presidency last year.
“Clearly, when you have regimes like the Assad regime and the Maduro regime presiding over this body, there is something fundamentally wrong with how we are conducting our business. And we need to examine that,” Wood told reporters, according to Reuters.