UN: EU Introductory statement on situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

UN 61st Session; III Committee, Agenda Item 67(c): Promotion and protection of human rights,  human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives
Introductory statement on  behalf of the European Union on the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Repupblic of Korea

Held by Ms. Satu Suikkari, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Finland
New York, 9 November 2006

Mr. Chairperson,

On behalf of the European Union, Japan and all the other co-sponsors listed in the document, I have the honour to introduce under agenda item 67 (c) the draft resolution entitled the “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” contained in document A/61/C.3/L.37.

In addition to the co-sponsors listed in document L.37, the following countries have joined as co-sponsors: Albania, Andorra, Bulgaria, Iceland, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Moldova, Palau, Serbia and Turkey.

Mr. Chairperson,

The European Union again attempted to initiate a discussion with the DPRK authorities regarding this resolution, as we would have welcomed the opportunity for constructive dialogue on it.  We sincerely regret that our overtures have been rejected.   In the absence of any willingness to engage on the part of the DPRK, we ourselves have therefore endeavoured to present in this text as balanced a picture as possible about the situation of human rights in the DPRK.  Thus, we have highlighted the developments welcomed by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, Vitit Muntarbhorn, in his latest report, in particular the DPRK's submission of reports to certain treaty bodies.  We sincerely hope that that engagement will continue and intensify. 

However, as the Special Rapporteur himself observes in his report, in the DPRK "there is still a huge gap between formal recognition of human rights and substantive implementation of human rights".  As regards substantive implementation of human rights in the DPRK, there is still much cause for very serious concern, including on all of the areas on which the General Assembly expressed its serious concern last year.  You will therefore find that this draft draws attention once again to continued reports of the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights perpetuated by the absence of due process and rule of law; sanctions on DPRK citizens who have been returned from abroad; severe restrictions on freedoms of thought, conscience, religion, opinion and expression; the continued violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women, as well as the unresolved questions relating to the abduction of foreigners, which violates the human rights of the nationals of other sovereign countries. In addition this year, the text also highlights the violations of economic, social and cultural rights that have led to severe malnutrition and hardship for the population of DPRK, as well as the continued reports of violations of the rights of persons with disabilities.

Mr. Chairperson,

Another issue that the EU and the cosponsors wished to focus on in this draft is the Government of the DPRK's continued refusal to even recognise the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, far less to cooperate with him or act on any of his recommendations, or for that matter to act on any recommendations of the General Assembly or the Commission on Human Rights.  We find this state of affairs deeply regrettable, as we do the DPRK's continued failure to engage in any technical cooperation activities with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Office, despite her efforts to engage in dialogue in that regard.  We call on the Government to extend its full cooperation to the Special Rapporteur, including by granting him full, free and unimpeded access to the country.

Though, as mentioned earlier, we regard the DPRK's limited engagement with certain treaty-monitoring bodies as a sign of nascent engagement in international cooperative efforts in the field of human rights, there is still, Mr Chairperson, a very long way to go before that engagement can be considered at all substantial.  Our frustration at lack of progress in this regard has been echoed recently by others in the international community.  Thus, we note the report on the situation of human rights in the DPRK compiled by Vaclav Havel, K.M. Bondevik and Elie Wiesel, which stresses the responsibility of the government for the egregious human rights and humanitarian situation in the country and contains a number of recommendations to ensure protection for the citizens of the DPRK.

Mr. Chairperson,

The aim of this resolution is to promote improvement of the situation of human rights on the ground in the DPRK.  So long as the government of the DPRK continues to perpetrate the violations of human rights covered by this resolution, and continues to shut its door to the offers of advice, assistance and capacity-building from the UN system in the field of human rights, we in the international community have little choice but to continue drawing attention to the situation.  It is only by this means that the plight of the people of the DPRK can be heard, so we urge member states to demonstrate their solidarity by supporting this resolution once again.

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.