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Diplomat: North Korea Will Not Honor Human Rights Agreements

A North Korean diplomat said Pyongyang will no longer honor its international human rights agreements.

The New York-based diplomat, who asked to remain anonymous, told the VOA Korean Service on Friday that agreements on human rights issues in North Korea have become “invalid” in reference to a series of actions Pyongyang promised to take last year.

In May 2014, the communist government agreed to examine some recommendations by the U.N. Human Rights Council. The recommendations it agreed to examine included calls to ratify U.N. Human Rights treaties. Later, Pyongyang offered to discuss human rights with the European Union.

The diplomat claimed that Washington was using the human rights issue as a pretext to overthrow North Korea's political and social system.

The diplomat’s comments were in response to a Washington conference on human rights in North Korea early this week. The conference was hosted by the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a private research group in Washington, and speakers included Robert King, the U.S. point man on North Korean human rights issues.

Earlier, North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador in New York warned Pyongyang would respond “very strongly” to the conference.

UN report on North Korea

Early last year, a U.N. panel released a damning report on the North’s human rights conditions, accusing North Korea of committing crimes against humanity. The report prompted the U.N. General Assembly to adopt its toughest resolution against Pyongyang on its human rights record.

The resolution pushed by the European Union calls for the U.N. Security Council to consider referring the North Korean human rights situation to the International Criminal Court.

Recently, some European countries, including those who have close ties to Pyongyang, joined the U.N. call.

An official at the Czech embassy in Washington told the VOA Korean Service this week his government has raised the human rights issue to Kim Pyong Il, the younger half brother of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

The younger Kim took his office as the North Korean ambassador to the Czech Republic last month.

“I can assure you that it [the North Korean human rights issue] already was addressed during some of the first meetings he had at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said Jaroslav Zajicek, minister-counselor at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Washington.

Zajicek added that the North Korean ambassador was reluctant to discuss human rights issues and preferred to discuss economic issues.