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UN General Assembly adopts resolution on human rights abuse in DPR Korea

UN General Assembly adopts resolution on human rights abuse in DPR Korea

The United Nations General Assembly adopted for the first time today a resolution on human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) reflecting its serious concern over reports of torture, public executions, arbitrary detention, the lack of due process, extensive use of forced labor, high rates of infant malnutrition and restrictions on humanitarian organizations.

The text, among several others pointing to human rights abuses in specified countries passed by the Assembly today on the recommendations of its Social, Humanitarian and Cultural (Third) Committee, also expressed its serious concern over restrictions on freedom of religion, expression, assembly and on freedom of movement within the country and abroad, as well as trafficking of women for sexual exploitation, forced marriage and forced abortions.

The Assembly urged the Government to ensure that humanitarian organizations, particularly the UN World Food Programme (WFP), have safe and unimpeded access to all parts of the country. It was particularly concerned that the Special Rapporteur on the situation in the DPRK has not been invited to investigate the rights situation in the country.

On 10 November, following a week-long visit to South Korea, the current Special Rapporteur, Vitit Muntarbhorn, urged the Government in Pyongyang to invite him and other UN-mandated personnel to visit the country.

Pending a first-hand view of the situation in the DPRK, Mr. Muntarbhorn called upon the DPRK “to end the various discrepancies and transgressions concerning respect for human rights in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural fields in the country, and to implement effectively the human rights treaties to which it is a party.”

Along with the resolution on the DPRK, the other country-specific texts adopted today – on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Iran, Myanmar, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – led to much heated debate during the Committee’s current session.

At a time when the UN is reforming its human rights machinery and laying the groundwork for a new and objective Human Rights Council, many members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) had claimed that the Committee’s practice of targeting developing countries while ignoring human rights abuses in the developed world ran contrary to the reform process.

The NAM requested that the Committee shut down its debate on texts pointing to human rights violations in specific countries. Those requests were thrown out.

The Committee did, however, approve in late November a “no motion” action which ended its discussion of the human rights situation in the Sudan.