Asia Pacific

North Korea criticizes U.S. for seeking U.N. meeting on rights

AP

North Korea is accusing the Trump administration and some supporters of trying to “stoke confrontation” instead of promoting peace efforts by calling for a U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss human rights in the country.

North Korea’s U.N. Ambassador Kim Song said in a letter obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press that the United States and other unnamed countries “are trying to employ all possible wicked and sinister methods” to hold a council meeting on Dec. 10 and have U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet address it.

Kim sent letters to all council members except the United States urging them to vote against holding a meeting on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK, the country’s official name. He sent similar letters to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and General Assembly President Maria Espinosa Garces.

The Security Council has discussed human rights in the DPRK for the past four years. Each meeting went ahead only after a procedural vote in the 15-member council, where at least nine “yes” votes are needed to hold the session.

Earlier this month, the U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee adopted a resolution by consensus condemning North Korea’s “longstanding and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights” and strongly urging its government to immediately end the abuses. It is certain to be approved by the 193-member assembly in December.

In October, the U.N. independent investigator on human rights in the isolated Asian nation said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s summits with the presidents of South Korea and the United States have not changed his country’s abysmal human rights record. Tomas Ojea Quintana pointed to reports of “systematic, widespread abuses” of human rights and a U.N. commission of inquiry’s findings in 2014 that possible crimes against humanity have been committed in the DPRK.

Relations between the two Koreas have improved since Kim Jong Un reached out to South Korea and the United States early this year with a vague promise to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. U.S.-North Korea talks on the North’s nuclear program haven’t produced much progress since Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump held the countries’ first summit in Singapore in June. A second summit is expected to take place next year.

Ambassador Kim’s letter recalled that “until last year, the Korean peninsula was a region where possibility of an armed conflict and a nuclear war ran higher than any other region in the world.”

“But, thanks to the peace-loving efforts of the DPRK, the atmosphere of peace and stability has recently settled down in the Korean peninsula,” he said.

“Nonetheless, to our deep surprise and regret, the Security Council is about to swim against the current trend by way of seeking to irritate a dialogue counterpart and stoke confrontation, instead of encouraging and promoting the ongoing positive developments,” the DPRK ambassador said.

Kim called the U.S. move to put the issue on the council agenda “a provocation.”

He demanded that human rights be discussed at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, not at the Security Council, “far away from its mission and mandate for maintaining world peace and security.”