Right to food dominates annual dialogue with Special Rapporteur on DPRK
Thursday, 22 March 2012 15:46


On 12 March, 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).


In his opening statement, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, Mr Marzuki Darusman stated that he was becoming increasingly concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in the DPRK and that requests made by him for visits to the country had failed to even receive a response.  


The right to food was a key issue raised by Mr Darusman and speakers in the room with an estimated six million people requiring international food assistance. States were concerned at the effect food shortages are having on the vulnerable such as children and lactating mothers. Kyrgyzstan and Thailand welcomed the DPRK’s cooperation with visits made by UN Agencies such as the World Food Programme in October 2011. Ecuador raised concerns about the effects economic sanctions were having on the food situation and requested the Special Rapporteur carry out an assessment on this for his next report. It was emphasised that food should never be used as an instrument of political and economic pressure. 


The Human Rights Council is expected to adopt a resolution on the DPRK expressing its 'very serious concern' about the human rights violations in the country, and renewing the mandate of ths Special Rapporteur for another year towards the end of the session (follow @ISHRglobal for timely updates).


States also raised concerns about the protection of persons seeking asylum in neighbouring countries, as people being returned to DPRK are likely to face harsh punishment. The UK reported that it was disturbed to hear reports of border controls operating a shoot to kill policy against asylum seekers. As a result of comments made by the Special Rapporteur, the EU and the USA, China expressed its dissatisfaction and argued that it believes those entering China are economic migrants whose behaviour is violating Chinese law.


Other issues discussed included the cases of 12 abducted Japanese nationals with States urging DPRK to urgently reinvestigate these cases. In addition, States were keen to see family visits reinstated for those families separated by the Korean War due to the advancing ages of those affected.


Speaking as the concerned country, DPRK strongly stated that it did not recognise the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and held the view that the report on the situation of human rights in DPRK was the ‘product of a political plot’ led by the US, Japan, the EU and other western countries. The delegation rejected the report and stated that this item should be removed from the agenda of the Council.


This view was endorsed by seven additional States[1] who all held strong views that the special procedure mandate was unnecessarily ‘politicising’ the work of the Council and thereby compromising its integrity. The same States argued that the UPR was the only way to achieve a debate with active participation and without politicisation. Many States however welcomed the report and pledged their support to the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. [2]

[1] Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, Belarus, Laos and Myanmar.

[2] UK, Slovakia, Spain, Canada, Australia, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand.


Last Updated on Friday, 23 March 2012 09:37
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