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
The Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation has released a document with recommendations for a renewed UN development system, taking a determined step towards an effective 2015 agenda. Bruce Jenks discussed, in depth, that conditions of international affairs have dramatically changed in the last decade into a complex network of stakeholders including civil society, private companies and State leaders. Therefore the UN must adjust and innovatively restructure their operations to match the changing international sphere. The post 2015 agenda is a high profile moment for the world to participate in constructing a renewed vision for the UN into the future.
H.E. Ambassador of Sweden explained that the post 2015 agenda is a chance to transform global policies, norms and incorporate new public goods providers. H.E. the Ambassador of Ethiopia stressed that low-income developing nations continue to be in desperate need of UN financial and development support. H.E. confirmed that leaders of the African nations have consolidated common agendas including a critical focus on domestic financing. Geographically the African region continues to be the most vulnerable to poverty and therefore the upcoming months will be a critical transition period towards strategies to lift these communities out of poverty.
The Vietnamese representative for the organization ‘UN-Women’ emphasized the strong need for leadership in any form of successful UN reform, and a secure commitment from all development partners. John Hendra explained that the document recommended a horizontal, multidimensional approach to encompass the community in a rights based agenda. Representative of the Korean mission insisted that any transformative agenda depends on the civil society engagement; while member states vote and debate where the agenda will fall there has to be the sense the world is watching and States have expectations to live up to. It is clear that at this significant turning point the UN has to adapt in this changing world to continue its effective development programs.
Meeting Title: Core elements of reform for the United Nations Development System
Speakers: Annika Soder on behalf of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, H.E. Ambassador of Ethiopia, H.E. Ambassador of Sweden, representative of UN-Women Vietnam, Bruce Jenks, John Hendra, representative of the Royal academy of Science and International trust and from the missions from; Canada, Ireland and Korea
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 19 May 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark