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    UN Rights Council Boosts Scrutiny of North Korea


    The North Korean human rights movement won a significant victory on April 4 when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution ensuring continued scrutiny of North Korea’s atrocious rights record.

    The resolution renews the mandate of the UN special rapporteur on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and asks the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare its first comprehensive report on the North Korean human rights situation since the Commission of Inquiry (COI) published its landmark report in 2014. The new resolution also increases resources for the high commissioner’s office to focus on criminal accountability for North Korea’s rights violations and stresses the link between North Korea’s weapons program, international peace and security, and human rights.

    It is the UNHRC’s most ambitious resolution on North Korea since 2016 and carries immense importance for victims of serious abuses in a country that is among the most isolated and repressive in the world. In sharp contrast to Russia’s veto at the UN Security Council on March 28 that disbanded the Panel of Experts on North Korea, this resolution demonstrates the commitment of concerned countries to ensure accountability.

    The 2014 COI report was a watershed moment, shedding light on egregious rights abuses in North Korea. The new report mandated by the UNHRC, to be published in September 2025, will build on the COI’s recommendations, provide a platform for North Korean victims, particularly those who have suffered since Kim Jong Un took power in December 2011, and amplify their stories on the international stage. By highlighting the connection between North Korea’s weapons development and human rights, the upcoming report will remind governments that security cannot be tackled in isolation from underlying rights abuses.

    The UNHRC resolution is a crucial step, but North Korea’s victims are entitled to greater support from international institutions. The UN General Assembly and Security Council should also increase their scrutiny of North Korea, including by exploring connections between rights abuses and weapons proliferation and the need to hold rights violators accountable.



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