The United Nations (UN) Third Committee adopted a resolution calling for accountability for gross human rights violations in North Korea on Thursday (local time). Co-sponsored by 61 member states, including South Korea, the resolution is expected to pass the General Assembly next month.
The U.N. Third Committee, which oversees humanitarian issues, passed on Thursday the draft by consensus without a vote. Twelve countries including China, Russia, Iran and Cuba did not join the agreement, opposing the political use of human rights issues, but no country demanded for a vote.
The resolution condemned the “long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights in and by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” It also expressed grave concern on the regime’s operation of political prison camps and human rights violations including torture, public executions, arbitrary detention, and forced labor. The commission encouraged the U.N. Security Council to “take appropriate action to ensure accountability” by considering referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and “target those who appear to be most responsible for human rights violations,” an apparent reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The resolution, which has been passed for the 14th consecutive year, generally maintained the last version’s content and expressions. A provision has been newly added in which the resolution welcomes an agreement that the two Koreas reached at the September inter-Korean summit to resolve the issue of the separated families. The South Korean government said that it joined the consensus-based decision in accordance with its basic stance to work together with the international community for a substantive improvement in the human rights of North Korean people.
Meanwhile, North Korea strongly rejected the document. Kim Sung, North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations, called the resolution a “product of a political plot of hostile forces” and exited the conference hall before the draft was adopted.