ICNK Looks to Future of UNHRC Challenge

As reported by Daily NK, the International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK) today launched a new effort to bring pressure upon the authorities in Pyongyang to halt the perpetration of extreme human rights abuses against the North Korean people.

At a news conference in Seoul this morning featuring Jared Genser of Perseus Strategies, Ben Rodgers of Christian Solidarity Worldwide and the international affairs head of Open Radio for North Korea, Kwon Eun Kyoung, ICNK announced that it has submitted a petition to the UN urging it to step up its work on North Korea, notably via the use of its ‘Special Procedures’ mechanism.

In a statement, the organization explained why it has taken the step, noting that “for too long North Korea has not only denied any wrongdoing, it has also continued to ignore and repeatedly reject recommendations by the international community to take action.”

In a second step this afternoon, the 40-member strong ICNK also held an international conference focusing on the challenges of pushing the North Korea issue at the UN, featuring presentations by, among others, Genser, Kang Cheol Hwan, the defector president of North Korea Strategy Center, David Knaute of the International Federation for Human Rights and Jack Rendler, the North Korea country specialist for Amnesty International, alongside an emotional video message for his father by a second defector with experience of the harsh life inside a North Korean prison camp, Shin Dong Hyuk.

Speaking with Daily NK during the event, Jared Genser explained the reason for the new moves by the coalition, saying, “There has been lots of reporting but not much action. My hope is that this petition that we filed today will provide a galvanizing opportunity to utilize all the human rights mechanisms that are part of the UN system for the first time to address the gulag system, which is probably the most severe set of violations in North Korea.”

“There is a precedent for doing this; it was done once before in the case of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba,” he added. “And what happened with Guantanamo was a 50-page report with 200 pages of footnotes and several dozen recommendations; we want to get the UN human rights machinery on record with conclusions of fact and conclusions of law as specific recommendations for North Korea.”

“Once that’s all in the system and on record it is going to be much harder for governments within the UN to fail to do anything to address the impunity with which the government of North Korea responds,” he concluded, adding that while the UN isn’t doing enough, “We’re going to give them an opportunity to do more.”