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Dozens of nations blast North Korean human rights abuses

By AFP

June 12, 2024 09:59 PM


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Dozens of countries at the United Nations blasted North Korea's human rights record Wednesday, overriding objections from China and Russia to even raising the issue on the Security Council.

South Korea's UN ambassador, Joonkook Hwang, said the isolated dictatorship in Pyongyang "continues to commit systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations and abuses."

Laying out a joint statement signed by 57 countries, which included the United States, he said that violations have increased in tandem with North Korea's growing focus on building its military.

"The abysmal human rights and humanitarian situation... is closely intertwined with the advancement of its weapons programs, like two sides of the same coin," he said.

Pyongyang "is diverting its scarce resources towards development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, at the expense of the well being of people..., alongside political impunity for its human rights violations."

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk echoed this, saying that "it is not possible to divorce" the human rights situation from the country's militarization.

North Korea is "a country sealed off from the world, a stifling, claustrophobic environment, where life is a daily struggle devoid of hope," Turk said.

However, the world body has only limited influence over North Korea, with China and Russia backing Pyongyang on the UN Security Council.

The council has not been able to pass any resolution on North Korea since 2017, with Beijing and Moscow both using their veto to stop a 2022 resolution on imposing new sanctions over the regime's ongoing missile testing.

On Wednesday, China and Russia attempted to prevent the discussion in the Security Council, but failed.

North Korea's human rights situation "does not constitute a threat to international peace and security," China's deputy ambassador, Geng Shuang, said.

Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya cited "a shameful situation where a narrow group of states is attempting to exploit the Security Council, the United Nations, as a tool for the advancement of their own geopolitical agenda."


AFP


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