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S. Korean Official: UN Seeks New Action Over N. Korea Human Rights

by Kim Hwan Yong October 14, 2015

The United Nations is making a renewed effort to bring North Korean officials to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for human rights violations, a South Korean official told VOA on Wednesday.

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, said a resolution calling for the North Korean human rights situation to be referred to the ICC is being drafted at the U.N. General Assembly's Third Committee.

The measure pushed by the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Britain is likely to contain key parts of a resolution passed by the U.N. General Assembly in December 2014, according to the official. The landmark U.N. resolution calls for the Security Council to consider referring North Korean human rights to the ICC. But, the U.N. action faced opposition by China and Russia, which have veto power on the council.

The new resolution is seen as another attempt by the U.N. to seek action against Pyongyang through the Security Council. Earlier this month, Marzuki Darusman, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, called on the U.N. body to take action.

"Efforts must be undertaken to ensure the accountability of those responsible for human rights violations, including through referral by the Security Council of the situation in the country to the International Criminal Court," Darusman wrote in a report.

The resolution being discussed also calls to support field offices activities of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The U.N. human rights office opened a field in Seoul in June to investigate the North Korean human rights situation. North Korea has made repeated threats against South Korea for hosting the office.

The latest U.N. resolution is likely to draw strong protests from Pyongyang, which rejects international criticism of its human rights record. The United Nations has adopted a human rights resolution against Pyongyang every year since 2005.

The U.N. move comes amid an emerging thaw in inter-Korean relations. Pyongyang did not fire a long-range rocket during the much-touted party anniversary last week despite widespread speculation that it would do so, fueling optimism that Pyongyang might refrain from provocative actions for now. Two Koreas are set for rare reunions of families separated by the Korean War next week.

This was produced in collaboration with VOA's Korean Service.

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