The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea, is one of the worst human rights abusers in the world. North Koreans frequently suffer unjust imprisonment, forced labor, starvation, torture, and even execution.
This month, the United States and Albania co-hosted a U.N. Security Council Arria-formula meeting to bring attention to and promote accountability for the DPRK’s human rights violations. U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield emphasized how these abuses are “inextricably linked” to Pyongyang’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, and other DPRK actions that threaten global peace and security:
“In the DPRK the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction always, always trumps human rights and humanitarian needs of its people. The regime's use of forced labor drives their unlawful weapons program forward. Food distribution policies favor the military at the expense of more than 10 million North Koreans who are food insecure.”
“Kim Jong Un has chosen ammunition instead of nutrition; missiles over humankind,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. However, these gross human rights violations and threats to international stability do not stop at North Korea’s border, she said:
“Reports indicate the regime has carried out acts of transnational repression, including intimidation, surveillance, forced repatriations and assassinations, which are sometimes carried out with the assistance from other governments and are sometimes carried out without consent from other governments, an indication of the DPRK’s utter lack of respect for state sovereignty.”
Abductions and enforced disappearances perpetrated by North Korea are also a grave concern, said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. There are hundreds of unresolved cases of international abductions - including in South Korea and Japan, who co-sponsored the Arria-formula meeting.
The United Nations must discuss these human rights abuses and their implications for peace and security, said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield.
“The modern world has no place for such brutality,” she said. “Last month, 62 co-sponsors, double what we had in the year prior, signed a letter requesting the Security Council remain seized with the human rights situation in the DPRK. It is time for the Council to address it publicly.”
The United States aims not only to protect the human rights and dignity of the North Korean people, but also global security as a whole.