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UN expert urges action to protect North Korea rights

UN expert urges joint action to protect North Korea human rights


NEW YORK / GENEVA (28 October 2016) – A United Nations rights expert has called on the international community to adopt a common and principled approach to the protection of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“If we are to stick to the principles of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights protection should be part and parcel of UN action and should be addressed in a comprehensive manner, including through strong engagement with States,” Tomás Ojea Quintana, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the country, told reporters in New York.

“The promotion of accountability for human rights violations is an essential component of this engagement,” he stressed.

The independent expert appealed to the country’s authorities to cooperate with the international community to ensure that human rights were respected and protected, in line with the UN’s founding principles. “We need to keep in mind that it is the livelihoods and dignity of people in the DPRK that are at stake,” he added.

The Special Rapporteur’s comments follow a presentation* to the UN General Assembly, the first since his appointment in August 2016.

Mr. Ojea Quintana said he had inherited a strong and comprehensive agenda with two building blocks: promoting accountability for human rights violations, and seeking to protect rights through active cooperation with the country’s authorities.

“In my view, these two tracks reinforce each other in advancing respect for human rights for all in the DPRK,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Council mandated a group of independent experts to support the Special Rapporteur’s work on promoting accountability for human rights violations in the country. Their recommendations will be submitted to the Council with his report in March 2017.

Mr. Ojea Quintana also informed the press of his intention to visit Northeast Asia, with a first trip scheduled for November 2016. “In addition to field trips to neighbouring countries, I will seek every opportunity to communicate with the DPRK authorities about the human rights situation in their country, including the possibility of conducting a visit,” he told reporters.

His comments come amid increased military tensions following the resumption of nuclear tests and missile launches by the DPRK.
The country has also suffered extensive flooding after being hit by a devastating typhoon in September 2016, displacing more than 140,000 people.

“The winter season is fast approaching but so far less than 10% of the required resources have been collected, leaving tens of thousands of people without shelter or access to essential food and medicine,” Mr. Ojea Quintana said.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s report to the Third Committee of the General Assembly: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/71/402

ENDS

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