UN condemns North Korea’s human rights for 15th year

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UN condemns North Korea’s human rights for 15th year

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution Wednesday condemning the human rights situation of North Korea, saying there were “ongoing violations in and by” the state that amount to crimes against humanity.

The resolution, sponsored by dozens of countries including the United States and those of the European Union, was adopted by consensus without a vote. It was the 15th straight year that the UN General Assembly passed a resolution denouncing the regime for human rights violations. The resolution is non-binding but acts to shed light on Pyongyang’s human rights crisis.

According to a summary of the General Assembly session released by the UN, Kim Song, North Korea’s ambassador to the international body, was quoted as rejecting the draft resolution, saying it had “nothing to do with the genuine promotion of human rights and seeks only to tarnish” his country’s image.

“All material contained in this draft is fabricated,” he reportedly emphasized, noting that dignity and human rights are “valued” in the North.
The UN summary went on: “The European Union should correct its own human rights situation, including issues such as Islamophobia, racial discrimination and the refugee crisis, he said, condemning the adoption of this draft resolution in the strongest possible terms.”

The resolution, entitled “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” referring to the North by its official name, condemned the systematic abduction, denial of repatriation and subsequent enforced disappearance of persons on a large scale and as a matter of state policy.

The UN General Assembly expressed concern at the humanitarian situation, which could “deteriorate” due to limited resilience to natural disasters and to government policies causing limits on the availability of and access to adequate food.

The resolution came on the heels of a failed attempt by some members of the UN Security Council, who earlier this month pushed to hold a meeting on North Korean human rights abuses. In reaction, Kim warned that the meeting would be “another serious provocation” aimed at his country that would prompt the regime to “respond strongly.”

The United States, which serves as this month’s president of the Council, backed out from signing a letter that would have launched the Security Council meeting, and instead convened a meeting to focus on Pyongyang’s recent military provocations amid stalled nuclear talks.

In the Security Council meeting last week, Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, said Washington was ready to be “flexible” and take “simultaneous” actions in the North Korean denuclearization process.

China, during the meeting, called on the easing of sanctions on the North and touted a “phased and synchronized” approach to denuclearization.

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