The Human Rights Situation in North Korea

images (1)The Permanent Missions of Australia, Botswana, and Panama co-organized a panel discussion on the human rights situation in the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, featuring the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK (COI). Kim Hye-Sook and Jung Kwang-Il gave statements on the “systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations” in political prisoner camps.

Representing the Commission of Inquiry, Justice Michael Kirby delivered a keynote speech. He, and later the representatives of Canada and the U.S., asserted the transparency of the COI’s 2013 Report on Human Rights in the DPRK. The report aimed to disclose North Korea’s “crimes against humanity” and the need for tribunal in the International Criminal Court. Though acknowledging the DPRK’s recent willingness for engagement, Justice Kirby requested a show of action in which, the DPRK makes the report available to its citizens and allows international machineries to enter the country.

Former North Korean citizen Kim Hye-Sook described the deplorable health and education conditions in labor camps. Former North Korean Jung Kwang-Il described the nine months of severe torture he endured in a prisoner camp, and the lasting physical and psychological damage.

The representative of the DPRK questioned the COI report’s “nature of political plots”, its use of leading questions, and the report’s assumptions of the DPRK’s legal handling of human rights. Justice Kirby assured the use of non-leading questions and lack of political motivation by directing the representative towards the online interview transcripts. Despite Kirby’s request, the representative of the DPRK denounced Kim Jung and other witnesses, as defectors.

The European Union and Japan mentioned a resolution based on the COI report, to soon be presented to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly. Botswana supported their resolution, having broken diplomatic ties with the DPRK upon release of the COI report.

Meeting: Panel discussion on “The Human Rights Situation in North Korea”
Location: Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Date: 22 October 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Alis Yoo
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Briefing by the President, Human Rights Council

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Today, the President of the Human Rights Council, H.E. Mr. Baudelaire Ndong Ella, addressed member states on the work of the 26th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva from June 10th-27th 2014. The program of work for the council had 42 meetings in the 3 weeks with 2,000 participants discussing human rights topics ranging from worldwide humanitarian crises to the abolition of the death penalty.

Mr. Ella stated that 3 main panels were held: a high level meeting on best practices in combating Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a panel discussion on the safety and security of journalists, and a panel on the prevention and elimination of child marriages. The Human Rights Council also held debates on women’s rights, sustainable development and human rights, and technical cooperation and capacity building on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Mr. Ella stressed that the council’s work is becoming more dynamic, with a constantly increasing workload. Furthermore, the human rights situations in Eritrea, People’s Republic of Korea, Belarus, Ukraine, Palestine, and Syria were also discussed at the meeting in Geneva.

The council’s work concluded with a new mandate for a special rapporteur on persons with disabilities, and a resolution on the death penalty to be discussed during the next biennial meetings. This briefing on the Human Rights Council’s work concluded with statements and questions by member states from the floor.

 

Meeting Title: Briefing for Member States of the Third and Fifth Committees by the President of the Human Rights Council (organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR))
Speaker: H.E. Mr. Baudelaire Ndong Ella, President of the Human Rights Council
Date: 16 July 2014
Location: Conference Room 4 NLB, United Nations HQ, New York
Written By WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

Starvation: Assad’s battering ram against the Syrians

“Kneel or Starve”

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The Danish Ambassador to the UN hosted a panel to reiterate Denmark’s determination to end starvation as a weapon of war in Syria.

Mr. Zakarya started with a personal account of the life in the besieged and chemically attacked city of Moadamiya. Victims of the regime’s “Kneel or Starve” strategy, the people of Moadamiya survived on a diet of sugar and rice before resorting to foraging edible plants. He added that the Assad regime actively blocked delivery of aid, and individuals who sought medical treatment are shot when returned to the city. Speaking of the disheartening story of a grocer’s daughter starved to death, he said that the strategy deprives Syrians not only of food, but also hope.

Mr. Sammond illustrated the severity of starvation in Syria by pointing to the fact that more Syrians died of starvation than that of illness and attack. Referring to Amnesty International’s report on the Yarmouk refugee camp, he pointed out that there is only half an hour of water supply per day. The lack of supplies is also illustrated by the fact that hospitals are lit by candles and even cigarette lighter, and caesarian sections are performed with little or no anesthetia.

Mr. Al-Dimashqy illustrated the shortage of food by stating that price of food increased by tenfold. Mr. Bitari provided a voice of Palestinians in Syria, and urged the international community to intervene the situation in Yarmouk camp.

Echoing the call for intervention, Dr. Ghadbian joined from the floor by stating that the problem with the starvation strategy is the lack of enforcement of Security Council Resolution 2139, which demanded parties to allow delivery of humanitarian assistance. Saudi Ambassador Al-Mouallimi passionately expressed his regret that some countries prevented the passing of a resolution for bringing those who caused this atrocity to justice.

 

Meeting Title: Panel discussion on “Life under siege: Starvation as a weapon of war”
Speakers: H.E. Ambassador Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations; Alexandra Hiniker, Pax Christi International (Moderator); Qusai Zakarya, Social Activist and Survivor of chemical attack in Moadamiya, Syria; Neil Sammonds, Researcher for Syria at Amnesty International; Ammar Al–Dimashqy, Social Activist in Besieged Areas; Nidal Bitari, Palestinian Lead for Human Rights in Syria; Dr. Najib Ghadbian, Special Representative to the United Nations of National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Force; H.E Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations.
Location: United Nations HQ, Economic and Social Council Chamber, New York
Date: 5 June 2014
Summary Written By WIT Representative: Harrison Chung