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Focusing on North Korea's Human Rights Violations


A United Nations Human Rights staff points to the title of a drawing describing North Korean labour camp no 18, a gift made in December 2012 by survivor Kim Hye Sook, in Geneva February 17, 2014.

International scrutiny of North Korea’s egregious human rights violations has intensified with the release of a UN report which concluded that some of the ongoing atrocities in the country may constitute crimes against humanity.

In the past year, the international scrutiny of North Korea’s egregious human rights violations has intensified with the release of a UN report which concluded that some of the ongoing atrocities in the country may constitute crimes against humanity.

In March of 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council created an independent Commission of Inquiry to examine what they termed as “grave, widespread, and systematic violations of human rights” by the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK.

The resolution that created the Commission of Inquiry, and which the United States co-sponsored, “reflects the international community’s deepened concern about the deplorable human rights situation in the DPRK,” said Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues Robert King.

The Commission of Inquiry found compelling evidence that the human rights situation in the DPRK is one of the world’s worst. These findings heightened the international community’s awareness of the magnitude of the DPRK’s deplorable human rights record and were underscored by the overwhelming passage in March this year of a UN Human Rights Council resolution that condemned the regime’s abuses, renewed the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, and demanded accountability for the ongoing human rights violations.

Subsequently, the United States, Australia and France convened the first-ever discussion by UN Security Council members of the human rights situation in North Korea.

“We have consistently told the DPRK that while the United States remains open to meaningful engagement, North Korea must take concrete steps to address the core concerns of the international community,” said Special Envoy King.

“North Korea will also have to address its egregious human rights record. North Korea’s choice is clear. Investment in its people, respect for human rights, and concrete steps toward denuclearization can lead to a path of peace, prosperity, and improved relations with the international community, including the United States. Absent these measures, North Korea will only continue to face greater and greater isolation—as well as pressure from the international community.”

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