U.N. Committee Calls for NK ICC Referral

Koo Jun Hoe  |  2014-11-19 17:07

The Third Committee of the U.N. General Assembly has passed a resolution on human rights in North Korea and called on the U.N. Security Council to hold those responsible accountable for the abuses.

On November 18th, the resolution, a joint effort by more than 60 nations, passed 111-19, with 55 abstentions. North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, and China were among the countries who voted down the draft.

The non-binding measure will come up for a vote by the General Assembly in December, at which time the same results are expected: to date, no resolution passed by the Third Committee has been rejected at the U.N. General Assembly.

If passed at the plenary session, it will be the 10th resolution on human rights in North Korea adopted since 2005.

However, previous resolutions pertaining to North Korean human rights did not include a referral to the International Criminal Court [ICC] for crimes against humanity--a move indicating more pressure and stringent recommendations to come in the future.

The resolution offers detailed evidence of the systematic and widespread human rights violations in the North: torture, public executions, rape, and forced detentions are among items on a long list of the atrocities. Based on findings from the Commission of Inquiry [COI] on North Korea, the resolution links the abuses to North Koreas leadership and calls for its accountability in the matter. Imposing targeted sanctions on those responsible is also among the resolutions recommendations.

North has vehemently opposed the ICC referral stipulated in the draft resolution. Cubas amendment to remove the clause for North Koreas referral to the ICC was also voted down in the same session.

This resolution is replete with groundless slander and U.S. hostile policies on North Korea are behind it, Choe Myung Nam, a North Korean representative to the United Nations announced prior to the vote. If this resolution passes, the consequences will be so grave that no one could have predicted them, he threatened.

Security Council approval for a referral of North Korea to the ICC is improbable; China and Russia are both expected to wield veto power to thwart it. However, the resolution is highly symbolic, and has succeeded in promulgating awareness of North Korea's human rights violations throughout the international community and increasing efforts to improve them. 

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