U.N. meets on North Korea human rights despite China’s opposition
The United Nations Security Council discussed in December 2016 what a senior U.N. official described as “appalling human rights violations” in North Korea, despite a failed attempt by China to stop the third annual meeting on the issue.
China’s U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi said the Security Council was “not a forum for discussing human rights issues and still less for the politicization of the human rights issue.”
Given the current context, where a plethora of dire challenges are confronting international peace and security, the council should “scrupulously honor its responsibility and focus on issues concerning international peace and security with undivided attention,” Liu told the 15-member council.
China, an ally of Pyongyang, called a rare procedural vote to try to stop the meeting. Nine countries voted to hold the meetings — the minimum required.
Angola, China, Egypt, Russia and Venezuela voted against having the meeting. Senegal abstained.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told the council that Pyongyang had displayed increasingly aggressive behavior throughout 2016 by conducting a record number of missile launches and two nuclear tests.
“We see the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] regime grow its illicit weapons program rather than growing its own children,” said Power, citing World Health Organization data that 1 in 4 North Korean children suffers stunted growth from malnutrition.
She warned North Korean officials, saying: “We are methodically documenting your abuses, and your impunity will not last forever. When the day comes that you are publicly held accountable, we will be ready.”
Earlier this year, the United States angered North Korea by blacklisting its leader Kim Jong Un, pictured, for human rights abuses.
A landmark 2014 U.N. report on North Korean human rights concluded that North Korean security chiefs and possibly Kim himself should face justice for overseeing a system of Nazi-style atrocities. Michael Kirby, chairman of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry that delivered the report, said at the time that the crimes the team had cataloged were reminiscent of those committed by Nazis during World War II. “Some of them are strikingly similar,” he said.
Andrew Gilmour, U.N. assistant secretary-general for human rights, told the council that there has “been no improvement in the appalling human rights violations” in North Korea.
North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
The United Nations Security Council imposed new sanctions on North Korea in November 2016 to cut the Asian state’s annual export revenue by more than a quarter in response to Pyongyang’s fifth and largest nuclear test in September.