Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement – United Nations 3rd Committee: Introduction of draft resolution L.26 on human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

New York, 14/11/2019 - 16:58, UNIQUE ID: 191114_12
Statements on behalf of the EU

14 November 2019, New York – European Union Statement at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee introduction for action of draft resolution L.26*: Situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

 

The European Union would like to thank co-sponsors for their constructive engagement during the negotiations of this resolution in front of you on the "Situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea".

Last year when we presented this resolution we felt encouraged by the exchange and dialogue that was held to advance peace and security on the Korean peninsula and we had the hope that this opening would impact positively on the human rights situation. One year has passed and there are no tangible signs for improvement - the situation with regard to human rights is unchanged. Although the country has undergone its third Universal Periodic Review in May 2019 and has engaged with OHCHR to prepare for the exercise, there is no proof that the human rights situation for North Koreans on the ground has improved.  Food insecurity is at alarming levels, as stated by the Special Rapporteur in his latest report presented to this committee; universally accepted freedoms, such as freedom of information and communication, continue to be denied; escapees state that political prison camps are operated by state authorities like before – there are no legal or procedural guarantees for people being sent to these camps and their families are not informed about the whereabouts of their relatives. There is no progress either with regard to the international abduction cases and the separated families which remain unaddressed.  This is all very concerning and calls for continued action by the International Community.

Action should include support to the accountability work pursued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Seoul. Information and evidence gathering – and the professional processing of it in a central repository – is vital for any future accountability process. Action should also target the humanitarian level; people in need of humanitarian assistance should not be abandoned. In this respect we wish to express concern about the latest action taken by the DPRK to reduce the number of UN agencies' staff in the country and impose obstacles and restrictions to NGOs' activities, and to make clear that the primary responsibility for the critical humanitarian situation lies first and foremost with the DPRK authorities. Peace, human rights and development are the three pillars of the UN system and they go hand in hand for us. Last but not least, we call for continued support to the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and his work; granting him access to visit the country would be a first step to reassure the International Community that the authorities of the DPRK are genuinely committed to improve the human rights situation in the country.

As stated every year, the European Union implements a policy of "critical engagement" with regard to the DPRK. Whilst we introduce this resolution to maintain momentum and international attention for the worrisome situation, we stand ready to help bring about change. This is the message that we want to convey and we thank all those who wish to join us by co-sponsoring this resolution.

Thank you, Mr Chair.

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