UN Security Council debates North Korea human rights

Pyongyang's human rights record is scrutinized for the first time at UN Security Council.

UN Security Council debates North Korea human rights
World Bulletin / News Desk
 
 North Korea’s human rights record came under scrutiny Monday for the first time at the UN Security Council, despite opposition from China and Russia.

The session followed last week's General Assembly vote to urge the 15-member council to consider referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court over alleged human rights violations.

At the outset of the late Monday meeting, council members decided in a procedural vote to put the issue on its provisional agenda, with 11 countries voting in favor and two others -- China and Russia -- against.

Security Council decisions on procedural matters are taken by an affirmative vote of at least nine members and no country has veto power.

“Rarely has such an extensive charge-sheet of international crimes been brought to this council’s attention,” Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic said.

The inclusion of an issue on the council's agenda means that it can be brought up at any time.

Simonovic said “widespread and systematic” crimes were committed in the country as detailed in a February report produced by the UN Commission of Inquiry.

The 400-page report, culled from first-hand testimony from victims and witnesses, said that ordinary North Koreans faced “unspeakable atrocities” including murder, enslavement, torture, rape, forced starvation and disappearances.

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, described life in North Korea as "a living nightmare."

"What is unconscionable in the face of these widespread abuses ... is to stay silent. Silence will not make the North Korean government end its abuses. Silence will not make the international community safer," she said.

The U.S. on Friday accused Pyongyang of being behind a cyber attack on Sony Pictures, which forced the company to cancel the release of a comedy movie depicting a plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

North Korea denied the claim, and proposed Saturday setting up a joint investigation with the U.S. into the hacking, threatening that "serious consequences" will follow if Washington retaliates against it.

Power dismissed the proposal as "absurd," saying that it was "the kind of behavior we have come to expect from a regime that threatened to take 'merciless countermeasures' against the U.S. over a Hollywood comedy."

Binding Security Council action on Pyongyang appears unlikely, as China and Russia, two of the five permanent members of the Council that has veto power, are the allies of the reclusive communist state.

 

Last Mod: 23 Aralık 2014, 14:45
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