Next week the United Nations General Assembly is expected to vote on a resolution to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Prior to proposing this action, the U.N. sent a letter to North Korea leader Kim Jong Un advising him that unless he took measures to improve repressive conditions in the country, he would be held accountable.
North Korea has tried a number of ways to either avoid or amend the U.N. resolution that would indict leader Kim Jong Un for crimes against humanity.
The General Assembly resolution was drafted by the European Union and Japan and has more than 50 co-sponsors. United Nations human rights investigator Marzuki Darusman documented a network of political prisons in North Korea holding 120,000 people and a list of atrocities that include “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence.”
Darusman said he was invited to visit North Korea on the condition that he remove from the resolution any paragraphs that refer to the accountability of the North Korean leader.
“Let me be very clear. Achieving accountability is paramount. The special rapporteur should be invited to visit DPRK without any preconditions and irrespective of the adoption of the resolution,” said Darusman.
Darusman said North Korea’s recent decision to release two Americans who had been imprisoned there was an attempt to sway some votes in the U.N.
Cuba has sponsored an amendment that would remove the accountability related paragraphs from the resolution. If the amendment makes it to a vote and gets a simple majority in the General Assembly, the resolution would be changed.
But Darusman said the U.N. offered the North Korean leader a way to avoid this diplomatic and legal battle. The U.N. sent Kim Jong Un a letter detailing the human rights violations and proposing measures that must be taken to end the repressive conditions.
“We then requested that this be looked into by the supreme leader and that persons primarily responsible for these actions be taken into account,” said Darusman.
The young leader of the country was warned, Darusman added, that by not taking action he would be held accountable for crimes and abuses that occurred in the past and that still continue today.
North Korea also sent high-level officials to Russia on Friday to lobby against the resolution, and its closest ally China has indicated it will consider vetoing the resolution in the U.N. security counsel even if it passes the General Assembly.