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UN Security Council to discuss North Korea human rights

By Margaret Besheer

June 4, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council will hold a public meeting in mid-June on human rights in North Korea while South Korea holds the council’s rotating presidency.

“Some countries have some reservations about human rights issues being discussed in the Security Council,” South Korean Ambassador Hwang Joon-kook said in announcing the session on Monday. “We know their logic.”

Countries including Russia and China oppose human rights issues being discussed in the 15-nation council, which is tasked with maintaining international peace and security. They, and other like-minded countries, argue that human rights issues should be handled in designated U.N. fora, such as the Geneva-based Human Rights Council or the General Assembly committee that deals with rights issues.

They could call for a procedural vote to try to block the meeting, in which case at least nine of the council’s 15 members would need to support the session.

Hwang told reporters at a news conference launching Seoul's June presidency that unlike other countries, North Korea’s human rights situation is part of the council’s official agenda.

“This is unique to North Korea, and there are some good reasons for it,” he said. The “DPRK human rights and humanitarian situation is closely interlinked with North Korea’s aggressive weapons — their aggressive WMD [weapons of mass destruction] and nuclear development.”

DPRK is the abbreviation for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The council was last publicly briefed on the issue on August 17, 2023, by U.N. Human Rights chief Volker Türk, who said that many of the severe and widespread rights violations in North Korea are directly linked to the regime’s pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile technology.

In 2014, a U.N. Commission of Inquiry found that North Korea’s rights violations had risen to the level of crimes against humanity and included murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape and enforced disappearance, among other crimes.

Relations between Seoul and Pyongyang have deteriorated in recent months. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said he has given up on reunification with the South and designated it a foreign enemy state. He has also enshrined the country’s illicit nuclear program into its constitution.

Washington says North Korea is advancing its prohibited weapons program “at an alarming rate” and has launched more than 100 ballistic missiles since the beginning of 2022.

And in one of its more bizarre actions, last week Pyongyang sent balloons filled with trash and feces into the skies over South Korea, dropping them on busy streets.

Fed up, South Korea said Monday it will fully suspend a 2018 military agreement with the North that is aimed at lowering tensions. Seoul partially suspended the agreement last November to protest the launch of a North Korean spy satellite.



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