UN votes in record number to condemn North Korea rights violations

a_United_Nations_Security_Council_meetingA UN General Assembly committee on Thursday adopted by a record majority a resolution condemning “gross” widespread human rights violations in North Korea.

The measure now goes to the full General Assembly for a vote next month, but the strong endorsement reflected growing calls for action to address the dire human rights crisis in the reclusive country.

The resolution overwhelmingly won backing from 112 countries, compared with 111 last year. Only 19 countries voted against the latest measure and 50 nations abstained.

European and Japanese diplomats who drafted the measure had said they were hoping to garner more votes than last year in the General Assembly, which has condemned Pyongyang’s rights record every year since 2005.

This year’s text condemns “long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights” in North Korea.

For the second consecutive year, it encourages the Security Council to consider referring Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Such a move however would likely be blocked by Pyongyang’s sole major ally China, which has veto power in the council.

Speaking on behalf of the EU, Luxembourg’s Ambassador Sylvie Lucas said human rights abuses in North Korea were now “firmly anchored in the international agenda” and stressed the need for accountability.

The resolution demands that a vast network of prison camps in North Korea thought to be holding 100,000 inmates living in appalling conditions be shut down.

North Korean deputy ambassador Choe Myong-Nam dismissed the text as a “product of political confrontation, plot and conspiracy of the United States and other hostile forces.”

“The DPRK takes interest in dialogue and cooperation but will continue to strongly counterattack any attempts of confrontation and pressure,” he told the assembly.

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