GENEVA – North Korea will “never, ever be bound” by international resolutions that criticize its human rights record, its foreign minister declared Tuesday, ripping into deadly gun violence in the United States and highlighting alleged rights violations against refugees who are pouring into Europe to flee violence at home.
Ri Su Yong took a strong message from a country known for powerful state propaganda to the U.N.-sponsored Human Rights Council on Tuesday, saying that any resolutions against North Korea will only be “proof of partiality and double standards.”
Ri’s sharp comments came before the 47-member body in Geneva was set to discuss North Korea’s record on March 14 as part of a regular review. That review will consider a sharply critical report that the U.N. human rights office’s rapporteur on North Korea issued last month.
“We shall no longer participate in international sessions singling out the human rights situation of the DPRK for mere political attack,” the minister said, using the acronym for the country’s formal name. His comment appeared to raise the prospect that North Korea would not exercise its right to respond.
Japan and the European Union are expected to present a resolution that condemns human rights violations in North Korea and would extend by another year an investigative mission into its rights record.
Over the years, North Korea has blown hot and cold with the commission. Last year, Ri was the first North Korean minister to attend a session.
A U.N. human rights expert on North Korea, Marzuki Darusman, said in a report last month that he wanted supreme leader Kim Jong Un to know that he and other top North Korean officials could be held accountable if they are found responsible for crimes against humanity committed under their leadership.
Darusman was on a U.N. commission of inquiry that in 2014 published a key report that laid out widespread abuses such as a harsh system of political prison camps holding up to 120,000 people. The commission urged the Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court over its human rights record.
Ri said the council has given scant or no attention to “systematic racial discrimination” in the United States, and cited “deplorable human rights violations” linked to gun violence in the U.S. He also cited refugees who had been “drowned in the sea or choked to death in a sealed lorry, as in the case of Europe.”
Separately, the United States has asked the Security Council to schedule a vote on a resolution that would impose tough new sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test and rocket launch.