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Korea Abstains From Human Rights Vote

Posted November. 18, 2005 08:26,   


The Korean government decided to abstain from voting on a resolution, regarding North Korea’s human rights in a session of the U.N. General Assembly that will be held on November 17. It appears that the controversy over the government’s determination to help improve human rights conditions in the North will get intensified.

An official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Korea held a briefing in BEXCO on November 17 where the APEC summit is being held and said, “Recently, through consultations between relevant ministries and offices, the government decided to abstain from voting on the UN resolution regarding North Korea’s human rights.”

He explained the background of the decision, saying, “Though concerned about the human rights situation in North Korea, the government concluded that it should resolve the issue in harmony with other priorities of major policies in the overall framework of policies regarding the North.”

The government is planning to explain its position to the members of the UN, right after the voting on the resolution.

The UN Human Rights Commission has voted on the resolution every year since 2003. However, it is the first time that the resolution has been referred to the UN General Assembly. Korea has not attended a voting session or abstained from voting in the Human Rights Commission.

The resolution, led by 25 EU countries including the U.K., Germany, and France, was safely passed in the UN Human Rights Commission last April and, thus, is highly likely to be passed in the coming UN General Assembly session.

Jong-Koo Yoon jkmas@donga.com