Seoul praises UN’s move on North

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Seoul praises UN’s move on North

The South Korean government on Friday lauded the United Nations General Assembly for approving a resolution asking the UN Security Council to refer Pyongyang’s crimes against humanity to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday passed a key resolution on the human rights situation in North Korea with an overwhelming majority - 116 votes in favor and 20 against. There were 53 abstentions.

While the UN General Assembly has approved resolutions on North Korea’s human rights violations since 2005, this is the strongest-worded resolution to date.

“This year, even though the UN General Assembly resolution contains stronger-worded content, such as asking the Security Council to review referring the situation in North Korea to the ICC, it was passed with overwhelming support,” said Noh Kwang-il, the spokesman for the South’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “which reflects the strong will of the international community to act against the serious North Korean human rights problem.”

Noh added, “Our government again urges North Korea through the recommendations of the UN General Assembly resolution to take concrete and substantive measures to improve the human rights of North Koreans.”

This resolution recommended that the Security Council consider extraditing the North Korean leaders responsible for crimes against humanity to the ICC and also called for targeted sanctions against those who appeared to be the most accountable.

The resolution, co-written by the European Union and Japan, was previously approved at the General Assembly Third Committee dealing with humanitarian issues last month and was based on the recommendations of a report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on the human rights situation in North Korea.

The landmark COI report released in February detailed systematic abuses - such as rape, torture and arbitrary detention by the regime - taking place in the country. Pyongyang “rejects” the resolution, said Ja Song-nam, the North Korean ambassador to the UN who claimed it was the product of a political conspiracy involving the United States and its allies.

But the resolution, which is nonbinding but carries symbolic significance, is unlikely to be approved in the 15-member Security Council. Russia and China are expected to exercise their veto power to block the resolution. Both nations rejected it in the General Assembly votes.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]




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