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UN Human Rights Resolution Passes

Posted November. 19, 2005 08:21,   


The U.N. General Assembly adopted a North Korea human rights resolution on Thursday.

The U.N. Third Committee, in charge of social, cultural and humanitarian issues, passed a resolution on North Korean human rights conditions proposed by 25 EU member countries including Britain by the vote of 84 to 22, with 62 abstentions. A total of 168 out of 191 member countries cast votes, and South Korea abstained.

The North Korea human rights resolution has been proposed and adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Commission every year since 2003, but this is the first time that it was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly.

The human rights resolution adopted on Thursday is not legally binding, but it can impose substantial pressure on North Korea in the sense that it is the first resolution on North Korean human rights issues adopted by the U.N. General Assembly.

The resolution expressed serious concerns on North Korean human rights conditions, citing abuse of human rights, torture, public execution, prison camps of political prisoners, prostitution, infants killing and kidnapping of foreigners. Furthermore, it urged the communist country to guarantee its people human rights and basic freedom.

It also called on North Korea to provide humanitarian organizations and groups such as the World Food Program (WFP) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with free access to every part of the nation.

In the meantime, the South Korean government’s abstention is expected to spark controversy as to whether the government is genuinely committed to improving the human rights condition in North Korea.

Choi Young-jin, South Korean ambassador to the U.N., explained immediately after the vote, “We share concerns with the international community on the human rights violations in North Korea. At the same time, however, our efforts towards improving human rights condition in North Korea should be pursued within the framework of our North Korea policy.” The South Korean government has been criticized for turning a blind eye to North Korean human rights issues, by staying away from polls or abstaining from votes on every U.N. resolution regarding North Korean human rights.

Kim Chang Guk, North Korean deputy ambassador to the U.N., said shortly before the vote, “The EU and the U.S. are abusing human rights issues for their political purpose. North Korea disapproves this resolution, as it is an indication of the fact that the EU joined forces with the U.S. in its policy to pressure North Korea, aimed at pursuing interference in internal affairs and regime change.”

After Kim’s speech, a dozen of countries including China, Venezuela, Cuba and Sudan expressed their opposition to the resolution.

However, a considerable number of nonaligned member countries from which North Korea expected the support chose to abstain from voting rather than vote against the resolution, contributing to the smooth passage of the resolution.

A U.N. General Assembly resolution is adopted by the majority vote of member countries which are present and that voted. According to the U.N. rules of procedures, member countries which choose to abstain are regarded as not having voted.

Jong sik Kong kong@donga.com