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UN Third Committee passes resolution on N. Korean human rights

UN Third Committee passes resolution on N. Korean human rights

Posted November. 18, 2022 07:42,   

Updated November. 18, 2022 07:42


On Wednesday, the UN Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural) adopted a draft resolution condemning the human rights violations in North Korea. The resolution, the first in four years for South Korea to propose along with other nations, addresses the killing of a South Korean public servant in the Yellow Sea in 2020 and the forced repatriation of North Korean fishermen in 2019. In response, the North denounced the South Korean government, mentioning the tragic crowd crush in Itaewon at the end of last month.

On Wednesday, the Third Committee convened a meeting at the UN Headquarters in New York. It adopted a draft resolution on North Korean human rights by consensus of 63 member states, including South Korea, the United States, and Japan. The drafts will be proposed for the plenary session next month. The UN has adopted resolutions on North Korea’s human rights violations for the 18th consecutive year since 2005.

The resolution led by the European Union includes a phrase urging the North to disclose all relevant information to the victims’ families and related organizations in addition to the existing phrase expressing concerns about torture, summary execution, arbitrary detention, and kidnapping of foreigners. This reflects the demand from the South Korean government and the families of Lee Dae-joon, a public officer killed by the North Korean military in the Yellow Sea.

Regarding the repatriation of North Korean fishermen, the resolution strongly calls for reassuring not to subject North Korean people who have been banished or repatriated back to the North to enforced disappearances, arbitrary execution, torture, abuses, and unfair trials. Mentioning the worsening human rights conditions in the North as a consequence of covid-19, the draft also urges the communist regime to take adequate measures to improve the situation immediately.

“The South Korean government is causing a series of human disasters, including the unprecedented crowd crush of late, as it lacks the necessary capacity to manage state affairs,” said Kim Song, the North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations, claiming that the South is trying to leverage UN human rights agenda to alleviate the criticism from in and out of the country. China and Russia weighed in, labeling it a “double standard” and “intervention of domestic affairs.”

Bae Jong-in, South Korea’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, retorted, calling Kim’s remarks “outrageous.” It shows how much North Korea belittles human rights. Mr. Bae also denounced the North for continuing to carry out missile provocations when the international community was still mourning for the victims of the Itaewon crush.

The Foreign Ministry of South Korea welcomed the adoption of the draft resolution, saying, “We strongly call for the North to immediately take effective steps to improve the human rights and humanitarian conditions of North Korean people by following the recommendations of the UN resolution.”

“It is quite meaningful that South Korea has participated in specifying the killing of the public servant and the forced repatriation of fishermen in the resolution,” said Shin Hee-seok, a legal analyst at Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG), a human rights investigation group.

Jeong-Soo Hong hong@donga.com · Ji-Sun Choi aurinko@donga.com