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New NGO report on human rights violations in North Korea

A report by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, a human rights NGO based in the US, and the US law firm DLL Piper LLP, from 19 September, draws attention to continued human rights violations by North Korea (the report can be found here). The report also calls on the UN General Assembly to ask the UN Secretary General to establish a group of experts in order to examine whether North Korea has violated its obligations of international human rights law and whether this results in a failure of North Korea to protect its citizens from crimes against humanity.

The main problems in terms of human rights the report sets out are

  • The disastrous food policy of the North Korean government and the famine that continue to prevail despite international assistance
  • The treatment of political dissenters in North Korean labour camps (gulags)
  • And numerous cases of abductions of foreign nationals by the North Korean government

North Korea has ratified the two UN-Human Rights Covenants as well as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. It is therefore not only subject to human rights obligations under international customary law but also under treaty law. Especially the alarming circumstances in the labour camps have led scholars to suggest that “the United Nations Security Council should approve a UN Charter Chapter VII resolution referring the situation in North Korea to the ICC for investigation” (Concentrations of Inhumanity, FREEDOM HOUSE, p. 5., foreword by David Scheffer, available here).

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