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Concerns For Human Rights In North Korea

South Korean lawmakers are greeted by North Korean women upon their arrival at the inter-Korean industrial park in Kaesong, North Korea, Oct. 30, 2013.

The U.S. remains "deeply concerned about human rights conditions in North Korea and the plight of North Korean refugees."

The United Nations General Assembly's Committee on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs, also known as the Third Committee, recently discussed human rights conditions in North Korea, or the DPRK. U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK Marzuki Darusman called for a "fresh opportunity to commence a renewed period of engagement and cooperation with the DPRK on the promotion and protection of human rights."

Special Rapporteur Darusman recognized the work of several United Nations entities in North Korea on humanitarian issues, noted that the DPRK is party to 4 key human rights instruments, and identified recommendations made to the DPRK as part of the Universal Periodic Review process as a possible entry point for engagement with North Korea on human rights issues.

The UN Secretary-General also released a report noting an urgent need for the North Korean government to take "immediate steps to ensure the enjoyment of the right to food, water, sanitation and health, and to allocate greater budgetary resources to that end."

The Secretary-General’s report on the Situation of human rights in North Korea also noted reports that "indicate continued suffering of the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from chronic food insecurity, high malnutrition rates and spiraling economic problems."

U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues, Ambassador Robert King said that the U.S. remains "deeply concerned about human rights conditions in North Korea and the plight of North Korean refugees."

"Human rights are a top U.S. priority," said Ambassador King at a recent conference in Washington, "and addressing human rights issues will have a significant impact on the prospect for closer U.S.-DPRK ties. "Our concerns about human rights," said Ambassador King, "are independent of who is in power. We deal with the government that is currently in place in North Korea. We will continue to press [North Korea] for meaningful progress on human rights that will be necessary for [North Korea] to fully join the international community."