UN is tougher than ever on North’s human rights

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UN is tougher than ever on North’s human rights

A draft of a strongly worded UN resolution critiquing North Korea’s human rights violations indicates the possibility of reporting the country’s situation and its leaders to the International Criminal Court.

The European Union created a draft of a North Korea human rights resolution and circulated it during closed-door consultations to concerned countries, the JoongAng Ilbo confirmed Wednesday. After further discussions, the draft will be sent next month to the Third Committee, which handles social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues.

If it passes the committee, the resolution will be sent to the UN General Assembly in December.

It has been an annual ritual for the United Nations to adopt a North Korea human rights resolution at the General Assembly since 2005. This year, however, the resolution is expected to reflect intensifying pressure by the international community on Pyongyang. It is expected to include a call for justice by reporting North Korean leaders responsible for crimes against humanity to the International Criminal Court, which is an unprecedented attempt.

While the draft will likely be revised, the international community has shown particularly strong concerns about the human rights situation in the North this year.

In February, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s formal name, issued a landmark report detailing a wide array of crimes against humanity by the regime.

In the report, the commission urged the international community to address the situation in the North and recommended the Security Council adopt targeted sanctions against the North’s leadership.

The report also included a letter from the commissioners to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The letter said the commission would recommend referral of the North’s rights situation to the International Criminal Court “to render accountable all those, including possibly yourself, who may be responsible for the crimes against humanity referred to in this letter and in the commission’s report.”

In March, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution endorsing the report. The resolution urged the UN General Assembly to formally submit the report to the Security Council.

The Security Council had a closed-door meeting on the issue in April.

Last month, the United States held a high-level discussion on North Korea’s human rights during the UN General Assembly period. President Park Geun-hye also urged Pyongyang to improve its dire human rights situation in a speech before global leaders.

“The resolution won’t likely single out Kim Jong-un or any other specific North Korean leader in order to obtain more support at the General Assembly,” said a South Korean Foreign Ministry official, asking for anonymity. “But the resolution will likely be stronger than those from previous years, such as including a call to refer the North’s situation to an international court.”

A UN resolution is not binding. Reporting the North to the International Criminal Court requires approval from the Security Council, but China has said it will veto such a move.

BY SER MYO-JA, LEE SANG-RYEOL [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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