Thu, Nov 20, 2014 - Page 1 News List

UN push against N Korea on human rights moves ahead

AP, UNITED NATIONS

The world’s boldest effort yet to hold North Korea and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un accountable for alleged crimes against humanity moved forward on Tuesday at the UN, where a Pyongyang envoy threatened further nuclear tests.

The UN General Assembly’s human rights committee approved a resolution that urges the UN Security Council to refer the country’s harsh human rights situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The non-binding resolution now goes to the General Assembly for a vote in the coming weeks. China and Russia, which hold veto power on the council, voted against it.

The resolution was inspired by a groundbreaking UN commission of inquiry report early this year that declared North Korea’s human rights situation “exceeds all others in duration, intensity and horror.”

The UN committee has adopted similar resolutions on the North’s abysmal human rights conditions in the past, but the fact that this year’s resolution includes the new idea that its leader could be targeted by prosecutors has pushed the communist country to make a more furious response, as that would pose a setback to its recent efforts to improve ties with the outside world to lure foreign investment and aid and revive the country’s troubled economy.

North Korean officials would also view the resolution as a potential embarrassment to their young leader, who took power after the death of his father, former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, in late 2011.

North Korea sent a sharp warning in comments before the vote.

Trying to punish it over human rights “is compelling us not to refrain any further from conducting nuclear tests,” said Choe Myong-nam, a North Korean foreign ministry adviser on the UN and human rights issues.

Choe also accused the EU and Japan, the resolution’s co-sponsors, of “subservience and sycophancy” to the US.

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