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Statement on the human rights situation in the DPRK

Statement by Representative of Slovenia to the UN Security Council Ambassador Samuel Žbogar at the briefing on the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Thank you very much, Mr. President,

I also want to welcome High Commissioner Volker Turk and Special Rapporteur Elizabeth Salmón to the Council and we want to thank them for their valuable briefings. I also want to thank Mr. Kim for his testimony.

I would like to begin by stressing the essential role this Council plays also when it comes to prevention. Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is among best placed agencies to offer us insights into often overlooked dynamics, that can steer Security Council‘s actions. 

Mr. President,

We condemn the long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations in the DPRK, some of which may constitute crimes against humanity according to the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights presented 10 years ago.

Sadly, as we have heard again today from the briefers, overall human rights situation has not changed since publication of that report, on the contrary, on many accounts it had further deteriorated. Slovenia therefore welcomes the holding of the open briefing today. The scale of human rights violations is horrifying and has wider implications on the international peace and security.

DPRK is a demonstration of intrinsic link between domestic human rights situation and international peace and security. The situation in the DPRK is a stark example of how the system that grossly violates democratic and human rights standards at home eventually becomes a threat to international peace and security.

Moreover, these human rights violations are directly connected with the increasing militarization of the DPRK. DPRK authorities are relying on the exploitation of workers and the widespread use of forced labour, including forced use of schoolchildren, for the advancement of their unlawful nuclear weapons and ballistic missile capabilities. DPRK must respect its international obligations and strictly ensure full implementation of all relevant UN resolutions with a view to abandoning its nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs and ceasing immediately all related activities. We call on all states to respect the sanctions imposed by the Security Council in order to attain this goal.

Mr. President,

Slovenia strongly condemns persistent human rights violations in DPRK. We are particularly worried about the situation of women and girls.

Long-standing human rights violations have recently been additionally restricted due to the DPRK’s drastic policies, initially linked to contain the COVID-19 pandemic that still partially persist. The DPRK authorities are delaying and preventing delivery of international humanitarian aid into the country through border restrictions. Additionally, people in DPRK face serious lack of access to food. For this, we call on the DPRK to allow urgent access for United Nations and other international humanitarian actors and to ensure that basic humanitarian needs of its population, such as access to food, medicines and health care, are met.

We remain worried that no dialogue on the reunion of separated families had been held for several years. We are also concerned about escapees from North Korea who are at risk of being repatriated involuntarily and we call for their international protection.

Culture of impunity for serious violations of human rights in DPRK unfortunately remains prevailing. Responsibility for ensuring accountability of such acts primarily rests within DPRK. However, in the absence of such efforts Slovenia is supportive of exploring other options for accountability, including through national level prosecutions under the principle of universal jurisdiction as well as referral by the Security Council to the International Criminal Court. We also welcome efforts of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for non-judicial accountability, such as reparations and memorialisation.

Mr. President,

Human rights are an integral part of building sustainable peace and security on the Korean peninsula. Therefore, we call upon the DPRK to stop the policy of self-isolation and to engage with the international community. We encourage DPRK to expedite the process of approval of the recently appointed resident coordinator, as well as to engage with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in DPRK and other UN mechanisms.

Thank you.

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