Iran Sets Its Sights on UN Disarmament Committee

Disarming is not a word you'd normally associate with the government of Iran. But the context here is the United Nations, so normal is not exactly a word that applies either -- especially not in the case of Iran's affinity for UN bodies officially tasked with promoting disarmament (of which the UN has many, all of which have failed to disarm such rogue states as North Korea, Syria, Iran...).

Thus do we arrive at the moment when, fresh from presiding at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, Iran is now campaigning for a post as rapporteur  of the UN committee on Disarmament and International Security.

It's all outrageous. But let's get specific. What's the difference between those two posts?

Well, the Conference on Disarmament meets at the UN complex in Geneva, and while heading it might sound quite special -- and in the case of Iran, quite monstrous -- it  is largely a formality. The Conference meets for periodic sessions, and during those meetings the presidency rotates alphabetically, every four weeks, through all 65 members of the Conference. This ensures that not only does Iran get a turn every so often as president but so do such aficionados of peace and disarmament as Russia, China, Belarus, Cuba, North Korea, Syria and Zimbabwe. Fortunately, the Conference has been gridlocked for years, so apart from sporadically exalting heavily militarized dictatorships with the title of president, and providing a lot of delegates with access to the shopping and banking facilities of Switzerland, nothing much gets done.

By contrast, the UN committee on disarmament offers more diplomatic heft. Convening at the UN's headquarters in New York, it is one the six main committees of the UN General Assembly, on which all 193 member states of the UN are represented. Dubbed the First Committee, this group, as described on its web site, "considers all disarmament and international security matters within the scope of the Charter," and  concerns itself with taking positions on everything from principles of cooperation on global peace and security, to "the regulation of armaments." The rapporteur reports on the doings of this committee, and rapporteurs serve for a full year. According to Reuters, Iran is competing against Kuwait to serve as disarmament committee rapporteur for the UN's next annual session, a term that would start this October, for the 68th General Assembly, 2013-2014.