UN council to meet on North Korea abuses

2015-12-04 09:44
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (File, AFP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (File, AFP)

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New York - The UN Security Council will hold a meeting this month to discuss human rights violations in North Korea, only the second such session, the US mission to the United Nations said on Thursday.

Nine Security Council members including Britain, France and the United States called for the meeting in a letter addressed to this month's council president US Ambassador Samantha Power, ramping up the pressure on the highly secretive state.

"We believe it is critical for the council to continue to shine a light on the abuses in North Korea and speak regularly about the DPRK's human rights situation - and what we can do to change it - for as long as the crimes committed there persist," Power said.

US mission spokesperson Hagar Chemali said the United States would work quickly to schedule the meeting.

Failed attempt to block vote

Last year, Pyongyang's sole major ally China sought to block the first ever meeting on the issue by calling a procedural vote on putting North Korea's human rights situation on the council's agenda.

The majority of council members however were in favor of the measure and the meeting went ahead, infuriating North Korea.

This year's request for a meeting was made by Britain, Chile, France, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and the United States.

It remained unclear whether China would seek again to hold a vote to register its disagreement with the decision to discuss Pyongyang's rights record.

A UN General Assembly committee voted by a record majority recently to condemn gross widespread human rights violations in North Korea.

No improvement in rights situation

The resolution, which goes to the full assembly for a vote later this month, encourages the Security Council to consider referring Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Such a move however would likely be blocked by China, which has veto power in the council.
International alarm has grown since the release last year of a UN commission of inquiry report which concluded that North Korea was committing rights violations "without parallel in the contemporary world".

In his latest report, UN special rapporteur Marzuki Darusman said there had been no improvement in the dire human rights situation over the past year.

Pyongyang continues to operate prison camps on a large scale and resorts to widespread use of summary executions, torture and arbitrary detentions to impose a "near-total denial of human rights", he said.

Read more on:    un  |  north korea  |  human rights

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