North Korea pushed to be put on UNSC timetable

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North Korea pushed to be put on UNSC timetable

Ten of the 15 member countries on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) signed a letter requesting that North Korea’s dire human rights situation be included in its agenda, Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, said on Friday. A discussion could be held as early as in the coming weeks.

King spoke in Washington during a Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars forum, where he stated that more than two-thirds of the UNSC’s council members, including the United States, South Korea and Australia, had signed the letter to the council’s president. Signatures from at least nine countries are needed to add the item to the UNSC’s agenda; a veto procedure is not involved.

This could mark the first time North Korea’s human rights violations have been placed on the UNSC’s agenda. King did not specify last week exactly when the council would discuss the matter, but said it will “certainly” happen later this month or next year.

The letter was drafted by Australia, he said. As of Sunday, North Korea had not issued a statement on his remarks.

The UN has for months pushed to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to indict its leaders for crimes against humanity. An ICC referral can only be made by the UNSC, whose members include China and Russia, two of the five veto-wielding permanent members.

The chances Pyongyang will be referred to the ICC are slim, as both China and Russia have explicitly denounced these movements in the UN. However, King inferred that attention toward the North this year alone will prove to be a cornerstone for future change.

Recent responses from the regime show that the movement within the international community has already had some effect. The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency warned late last month that the United States is now the nuclear-armed regime’s “top target” for a “super hard-line” retaliation.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [selee@joongang.co.kr]

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