Council struggles to respond to DPRK's lack of cooperation
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 18:13


On 14 March 2011, the Human Rights Council (the Council) held an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Mr Marzuki Darusman. The report presented by Mr Darusman is his first report to the Council. Hungary (on behalf of the EU) and Japan are presenting a resolution on the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. As in previous years, it is expected that the resolution – albeit with some negative votes – will be adopted largely unchanged at the end of the 16th session. However, faced with the consistent non-cooperation by the DPRK, it seems that the Council’s approach could benefit from new elements.


Just like his predecessor, Mr Darusman was continuously refused access into the DPRK and was thus forced to base his report on visits to Japan and the Republic of Korea where he met with government officials, NGOs, UN representatives, and victims of human rights abuses from the DPRK. Mr Darusman emphasised that he will keep trying to gain access to the DPRK and engaging with the authorities in the future.


Amongst other things, Mr Darusman’s report focuses on cases of abductions of persons from Japan, the Republic of Korea and several other countries by the DPRK as a cause of grave international concern. The continued cross-border separation of families and currently stagnant process of family reunification were also noted in the report. Internally, the DPRK is facing food insecurities and international humanitarian aid needs to be offered and facilitated by the State. Additionally, the State should allow participation in Government, freedom of expression, access to information, and freedom of association. Currently, civil society does not exist in the DPRK and any expression opposing the recognised view of the State is criminalised. Many prisoners and detainees are being held in detention and correctional facilities and labour camps for political reasons. Mr Darusman expressed concern regarding the conditions in these facilities. The report also touches upon the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees from the DPRK. It was stressed that all States should respect the principle of non-refoulment in this regard. Finally, Mr Darusman recognised the DPRK’s participation in its universal periodic review (UPR) but noted that the State’s failure to make clear which recommendations it would accept brought into question its commitment to the UPR process.


During the dialogue, many States concurred with the issues and recommendations highlighted in the report, including Japan, the Republic of Korea, the EU, and the USA. However, some States expressed opposition to the report and to this mandate in general. As a concerned country and in its usual manner, the DPRK strongly affirmed its ‘categorical and resolute rejection’ of both the Special Rapporteur and his mandate, stating that the report originated from the forced adoption of this county-specific mandate by the Council as part of a ‘conspiracy by the USA, Japan, and the EU with the aim to eliminate the DPRK State and social system under the pretext of human rights’.


The DPRK was supported only by a handful of States. The Syrian Arab Republic stated it had never supported the mandate because it was a politically motivated monitoring tool and a breach of the DPRK’s sovereignty. This was echoed by Cuba. Sudan and Belarus opposed the report as ‘unreliable’ because it was not based on an actual country visit.


Several NGOs including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Conectas highlighted some of the previously mentioned issues, such as abductions, conditions in detention and correctional facilities (noting the use of public executions), and food insecurity. In stark contrast and using similar rhetoric as the delegation of the DPRK and its supporters, the Indian Movement ‘Tupaj Amaru’ claimed that the DPRK was a ‘victim of selectivity and double standards as happened in the case of Cuba’ based on ‘inquisitorial methods used in times of colonialism’.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 March 2011 10:06
© by The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 2019