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Nobel Peace Prize Winners Urge UN Security Council to Address Human Rights in North Korea

Nobel Peace Prize Winners Urge UN Security Council to Address Human Rights in North Korea

Posted October. 31, 2006 03:00,   


Nobel peace prize laureates – author Elie Wiesel, former Czech president Vaclav Havel, and former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik – urged the U.N. Security Council on October 29 to take the lead in improving North Korea’s human rights record.

“North Korea’s oppression of human rights must not be overshadowed by the recent nuclear test. The U.N. Security Council must squarely deal with the Kim Jong Il regime’s oppression of its people for human rights protection separately from the sanctions imposed on the regime after the nuclear test,” the three argued in the Human Rights Report on North Korea released on that day.

They also jointly wrote for the New York Times yesterday, pointing out that the first official task for the next United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon must be to report to the Security Council on North Korea’s human rights situation.

The report was co-written by the three Nobel peace prize winners, the law firm DLA Piper, and an NGO, the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

They claimed in the report that since the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution to prevent another tragedy such as the 1994 Rwandan massacre with unanimous support from the 15 permanent members in 2005, there is enough cause for it to interfere with human rights in North Korea.

The U.N. General Assembly has passed a resolution on human rights in North Korea, but there has not been any real discussion on that matter at the Security Council. Unlike resolutions adopted at the General Assembly, those adopted at the Security Council generally have binding power.

“The U.N. General Assembly and the U.N. Commission on Human Rights have adopted resolutions condemning North Korea’s human rights abuse, only to be ignored by the North. The growing attention on North Korea after the nuclear test provides a good opportunity to improve North Korea’s human rights record,” the three Nobel laureates wrote in the New York Times.

Meanwhile, the report criticized North Korea for its food policy that starved one million people to death in the late 1990s and for its judiciary system that is posing a new threat to world peace, which is wholly different from the past.

It urged the U.N. Security Council to start by adopting a resolution, with no sanctions attached, that includes human rights activists’ free access to North Korea, release of all political prisoners, and permission for a United Nations special reporter on human rights to enter the country.