Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
PYONGYANG, North Korea – The U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee has passed a resolution urging North Korea to improve its human rights conditions on Friday. 51 countries cosponsored the resolution, including South Korea, which is the first cosponsor. The resolution expressed “very serious concern” at rights violations in North Korea, including the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, the “all-pervasive and severe restrictions” on freedom of thought and religion, and violations of workers’ rights.
However, North Korea strongly rejected the U.N. resolution. The North Korean delegation to the UN criticized the nonbinding resolution, characterizing it as politicization and double standards in dealing with human rights. According to the North Korea’s official news agency, a foreign ministry spokesman, Pak Dok Hun said, the DPRK (North Korea) resolutely rejects the resolution. He said it is based on “false and fabricated” data, adding that the hardline communist country would “firmly” stick to its system and ideology. Pak also says the resolution was “a provocation to the North’s dignity,” and South Korea “will face the dearest price” for its “treacherous act.”
South Korea’s co-sponsored triggered anger from Pyongyang and worsened cross-border relations. Secretive North Korea said on Monday it would all but seal its border with the South a week before heading into talks with its neighbor and other regional powers which are pressing it to give up nuclear weapons. North Korea’s KCNA news agency said the border closure was the first step “to be taken in connection with the evermore undisguised anti-DPRK (North Korea) confrontational racket of the south Korean puppet authorities.” The tension between South and North Korean has been escalating since President Lee Myung-bak took office in February. President Lee promises to invest heavily in the impoverished North on condition it moves to end development of an atomic arsenal.
For more information, please see:
AP – Report: North Korea rejects UN rights resolution – 22 November 2008
Jurist – North Korea protests proposed UN General Assembly rights resolution – 22 November 2008
KBS – UN Committee Passes Resolution on NK Human Rights – 22 November 2008
International Herald Tribune – North Korea rejects UN human rights resolution – 24 November 2008
Washington Post – North Korea prepares to shut border with South – 24 November 2008