JBI, together with the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) and seven other leading human rights groups, has dispatched a letter (available here) to all Member States of the UN General Assembly calling for them to support a landmark resolution on human rights in North Korea.
The General Assembly’s Third Committee (on human rights) is expected to vote on the resolution on Tuesday, November 18.
The draft resolution under consideration is particularly significant because the General Assembly would endorse, for the first time, the landmark final report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which concluded its work earlier this year (DPRK COI).
The DPRK COI found that the gravity, scale and nature of the ongoing human rights violations in North Korea are “without parallel in the contemporary world.” Among other recommendations, it called for UN Member States to refer the COI’s report to the UN Security Council and for the Council to consider referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider the COI’s conclusion that many crimes against humanity have been committed in North Korea, pursuant to policies set at the “the highest levels of the State.”
Cuba recently proposed an amendement to the draft resolution that would eliminate the language calling for the DPRK COI report to be transmitted to the UN Security Council and for it to consider referring North Korea to the ICC, claiming that instead the UN should adopt a more “cooperative” approach to the country. The EU and Japan, the principal drafters of the resolution, have opposed the amendment and encouraged Member States to vote against it. If adopted by the Third Committee on Tuesday, the resolution will be taken up by the full General Assembly for consideration in December.
When the text of the draft resolution was first announced, JBI and HRNK encouraged Member States to support the text and to send the message that the international community is ready to take meaningful action in response to the DPRK COI report and its grave conclusions. JBI, HRNK and other human rights groups, together with Australia, Botswana and Panama, also sponsored a UN side-event featuring remarks by the Chairperson of the DPRK COI, Justice Michael Kirby of Australia, and first-hand witnesses to the human rights abuses in North Korea [video available here].
At that event, Justice Kirby called on States to support the strong call for accountability in the draft resolution and to send the message: “We don’t back away. We expect accountability for great crimes.”