GENEVA - The United States and a number of other nations staged a walkout Wednesday at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament as a Venezuelan representative of President Nicolas Maduro was about to speak. They boycotted his presence to protest what they term the immoral policies of Maduro's illegitimate regime.
U.S. Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament Robert Wood says the walkout has sent a very powerful message to both the international community and to Venezuelans that what he calls the "former Maduro regime," has no moral or political legitimacy.
"The Maduro regime is unacceptable," he said. "We do not recognize it, and therefore, we could not be in that hall sitting in our seats with a representative of that former regime speaking to the chamber. It was a disgrace to the chamber for that representative to be there."
The 65-member Conference on Disarmament includes the five nuclear powers. The presidency of the body rotates on a monthly basis in alphabetical order. The United Kingdom currently holds the post until March 15, to be followed by the United States. After the U.S. steps down, it will be Venezuela's turn to assume the presidency.
Wood says it would be a travesty to allow the dictatorial former regime of Maduro to hold that chair.
"That chair, as I mentioned today, belongs to the people of Venezuela obviously, but specifically to the government of Juan Guaido, the interim president of Venezuela," he said.
The work of the Conference on Disarmament has been stalled for more than a decade because of strained relations among key nations. Prior to that time, however, the U.N.body had drafted numerous arms-control agreements.
Some of the most important include the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.