NEW YORK – North Korean officials are seeking to have key lines deleted from a draft U.N. resolution that calls for a referral of Pyongyang’s human rights abuses to the International Criminal Court and proposes sanctions against the country’s top leaders, according to a U.N. investigator.
Marzuki Darusman, a special rapporteur of human rights in North Korea recounted his “unexpected” meeting on Monday with four officials from the country. They suggested making the changes in the document in exchange for an offer to visit the secluded country. He had previously been barred from visiting North Korea because of his human rights investigations.
The draft resolution has been circulated by Japan, the European Union and other co-sponsors at the U.N. General Assembly’s Third Committee hearing on human rights issues, where Darusman delivered a report.
Citing the U.N. commission of inquiry’s report, the resolution says that “the body of testimony gathered and the information received provide reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed” in the country, “pursuant to policies at the highest level of the states for decades.”
In addition to the ICC referral of North Korea’s rights abuses, the draft document also encourages the U.N. Security Council to consider “the scope for effective targeted sanctions against those who appear to be most responsible for acts that the commission has said may constitute crimes against humanity.”
These points, raised in the seventh and eighth paragraphs in the document, are problematic for Pyongyang, Darusman said on Tuesday, even though the country’s leader Kim Jong Un is not named.
“Those are the parts of the text that they’ve asked to be deleted so that they could be in a position to issue an invitation,” Darusman explained.
An EU spokesman said that “the EU and its co-sponsors will look at any proposals made by the DPRK” with the objective of improving the human rights situation in the country, which is officially called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Darusman spoke about his meeting with the North Koreans as a positive one and suggested that a visit could be possible, but could not be based on a “snap decision.” It would have to be carried out with a “substantive and effective objective,” he said.
“Any visit would have to be undertaken with a view to allow the rapporteur access into any location, institution, which would be a primary concern of the international community,” Darusman added.