UN adopts human rights resolution on North without a vote

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UN adopts human rights resolution on North without a vote


As the international outcry against China’s repatriation policy sheds light on inhumane conditions facing North Koreans in their country, on Thursday the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution and expressed “serious concern” at the ongoing human rights violations in the North.

The resolution was adopted without a vote for the first time. Since the first adoption of the resolution on the North’s human rights condition in 2003, it had been adopted every year through a vote.

“We assess that the adoption of the resolution without a vote reaffirms shared understanding among the international community that the human rights condition in North Korea is serious,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Seoul, in a statement.

In the resolution, the council also extended the mandate of the UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea for one year, urging the North to fully cooperate with him and permit him unrestricted access to visit the country. Marzuki Darusman has served as the special rapporteur since June 2010.

North Korea blasted the resolution, calling it a “product of political confrontation.”

“All the actions against the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the international human rights arena are a confrontation of politics, ideology and ideals aimed at sabotaging the socialist system,” a North envoy said of the resolution, the council statement showed. “The adoption of a country-specific resolution would lead to confrontation which was not compatible with genuine dialogue and cooperation.”

During the opening of the Unhrc session in Geneva on Feb. 27, Seoul called on all UN members to stop repatriating North Korean defectors. It was the first time it raised the issue of forced repatriation of North Koreans, although it avoided mentioning China. No resolution has been drafted about the issue during the latest Unhrc session. The session wraps up today.

Dozens of North Koreans have been detained in China since February, facing the prospect of being returned to the North, where they are reported to face execution or imprisonment in labor camps.

U.S. lawmakers Thursday chided China for the repatriation policy.

“Not surprisingly, China also does Pyongyang’s dirty work, rounding up North Korean refugees and forcing them back to certain harm at the same time that it sits on the executive board of the UN’s refugee protection body,” Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chair of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, while she and 20 other House members introduced a bill on continuing efforts to promote human rights in the North.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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