A new realityThe United Nations on Tuesday passed a resolution classifying North Korea as a rogue state that continues to engage in a serious level of human rights violations such as torture and public execution. The recalcitrant nation’s violation of human rights is nothing new. But the strong resolution by the UN will likely serve as a turning point in the issue given the gravity of the international body’s actions, as seen in a committee’s suggestion to refer the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to urge it to bring those involved in crimes against humanity to justice.
The UN’s adoption of the resolution can be seen as the international community’s stern warning to North Korea along with similar recommendations by a new UN Commission of Inquiry (COI).
But with China - North Korea’s traditional ally and a permanent member of the Security Council - expressing a will to oppose the resolution, it’s still unclear if the North’s human rights violations will really be referred to the ICC, an independent international organization dedicated to ending impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. The latest UN resolution is an unwavering demonstration of the world’s determination to not ignore North Korea’s human rights violations anymore. The resolution is also expected to put potent and persistent pressure on the Pyongyang regime as the issue has been internationalized.
North Korea must recognize the seriousness of the issue as well as the resoluteness of the action by the international community. Now, it must accept a new reality in which it can hardly continue to repress people’s human rights under the principle of non-intervention. In particular, Pyongyang must take note of the fact that a majority of UN members agreed to adopt a bold resolution calling for a referral of the case to the ICC for the first time in the UN’s history.
Therefore, the North must aggressively find concrete ways to improve the situation in close cooperation with the global community, including China above all. Beijing also must confront the new reality that the North’s human rights violations have become a UN-level issue that cannot be left as they are.
Our government must prepare appropriate strategies and measures after reviewing our role and responsibility to improve the North’s situation. The international community is of the position that silence over such repression of human rights is the same as advocating it. As a democratic state, we must first wrap up the enactment of relevant laws and participate in the international community’s move toward the protection of human rights, a genuinely universal value for humankind.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 20, Page 34