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Date : December 14, 2014
NGO Joint Support Statement Urges UN on NK Human Rights
   http://www.dailynk.com/english/read.php?num=12670&cataId=nk00100 [638]

A group of 10 NGOs advocating for human rights have submitted a joint letter to the UN Security Council Members in support of a separate letter sent on December 5th by 10 Council members--Australia, Chile, France, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, the United Kingdom, and the United States-- urging formal discussion of the North Korean human rights situation “without prejudice to the item on non-proliferation.”

The Council members called on the human rights violations in North Korea to be recognized as a security threat, citing the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on human rights in North Korea [COI], which found that the violations in North Korea “threaten to have a destabilizing impact on the region and the maintenance of international peace and security.”

The ten NGOs signing off on the support letter for the Council Members’ submission are among some of the most internationally recognized and active human rights groups: Amnesty International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights [NKHR], Committee for Human Rights in North Korea [HRNK], Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea, International Federation for Human Rights [FIDH],  and the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights.

Requesting that the situation in North Korea be formally placed on the Council’s agenda, again without “prejudice to the item on non-proliferation in DPRK,” the letter went on to call for a meeting of the Security Council on the situation in North Korea, with a senior official from the UN Secretariat and a senior official from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights formally briefing the Security Council on the agenda item--a measure aimed at enabling the Council members to gain more information and better understand the implications for international peace and security this situation holds.

This joint statement oft-references the COI to convey the urgency of bringing this matter to the discussion table, stating that, “the long-standing and ongoing patterns of systematic and widespread violations of human rights [in North Korea] meet the high threshold for proof of crimes against humanity” and that their nature, scale, and gravity “reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world."

Pointing out that North Korea’s “bellicose response” to the latest vote by the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, “further supports the Commission’s conclusion that the U.N. Security Council’s consideration of the human rights situation is essential," the statement went on. Indeed, of particular vexation to the North within the recently passed draft resolution was the explicit recommendation for an ICC referral, based on the COI's findings.

Kwon Eun Kyoung of the International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea [ICNK] spoke with Daily NK about why the inclusion of the ICC referral is imperative in the discussions.

Kwon maintained that "ICC referral is a way to cut the chain of impunity, which the North Korean authorities systematically utilize in order to control the power and the people," and must be included in formal discussions on human rights in North Korea.

Naturally, she noted that in addition to bringing those responsible for crimes against humanity in North Korea to justice—the most effective method to do so being at an independent judicial body, namely the ICC --a variety of channels and tools should be applied to the improvement of North Korean human rights: engagement, people-to-people interchanges, inter-Korean economic and cultural exchanges, etc.

The letter concludes with a salient point underscoring why such joint letters lobbying for this issue are so paramount: the Security Council has not yet formally discussed the COI report, despite it being shared with the Member States on April 14th, 2014.

In regard to this, the letter reads, “We therefore agree with the Commission’s conclusion—and of the ten Council members that signed the December 5[th] letter — that the UN Security Council should prioritize formal discussion of the human rights situation in North Korea as early as possible, and without further delay. Such a meeting should be open to all Member States given that, as the Commission rightly noted, the responsibility for action lies with the entire international community.”

Kwon echoed these sentiments, stating that the international community has turned a blind eye to the unfathomable human rights atrocities in North Korea for far too long. “Ignoring such atrocities and crimes is akin to the criminal offense of wilful negligence,” she asserted.

Source: Daily NK

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