Today, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly adopted an EU-facilitated resolution on the dire human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The resolution, adopted by consensus, was introduced by the European Union and received wide cross-regional support, with more than 60 countries joining as co-sponsors.
The resolution addresses the ongoing human rights violations and sends a strong message to the DPRK on its continued and worrisome lack of cooperation, and the country’s refusal to grant access to the UN Special Rapporteur. It demands that the government fulfil its international human rights obligations, as well as make progress on the cases of international abduction and separated families, now stalled.
The Resolution calls for continued engagement by the international community to support the Special Rapporteur’s mandate and to ensure accountability of human rights violations. In preparing the resolution, the EU consulted the Special Rapporteur on DPRK and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva. As part of its support to the Rapporteur’s mandate, EU Ambassador to the UN, Olof Skoog, met with the current mandate holder, Tomas Oja Quintana, in late October. Despite limited access to information, SR Quintana confirmed the trend of a worsening human rights situation within the country.
COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the country, especially on the most vulnerable, increasing obstacles to delivering humanitarian aid, and exacerbating further the already high malnutrition rates. The €2 million of food security projects and additional ad-hoc humanitarian interventions that the EU implements every year through the resident foreign NGOs in the country have been suspended due to border closures. This has prevented the ability to rotate personnel and provide humanitarian assistance. In view of the current situation, the EU is ready to play a more active role.
The EU’s leadership on this resolution is an integral part of its policy of critical engagement towards the DPRK, which aims to improve the situation of human rights, to promote peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the broader region, and to uphold the international non-proliferation regime.
Since 1998, the EU has conducted 14 political dialogues with DPRK, and has repeatedly tried to address the human rights violations bilaterally as well as through multilateral bodies, sponsoring and leading resolutions such as this one. This is accompanied by the aforementioned provision of humanitarian assistance and the implementation of the sanctions imposed by Resolutions of the UN Security Council, together with other own autonomous measures (asset freeze and travel ban) that target 9 entities and 57 individuals involved in the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile-related programmes.