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On DPRK, Darusman Links Nukes & Rights, Chides Military Spending

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 28, updated with video -- When the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Marzuki Darusman spoke at the UN on October 28, he said "given the intrinsic links between peace and security and human rights in the Korean peninsula, in my view this Assembly should also submit the report of the Commission of Inquiry to the Security Council for its deliberations and appropriate action."

  Inner City Press asked Darusman if, unlike his UN counterpart on Iran Ahmed Shaheed, he favored linking human rights to the nuclear issues, and if he considered the impact of sanctions on residents of North Korea.

  Darusman's answer was that the goal of taking it to the Security Council would be to seek a referral to the International Criminal Court, and also to put human rights into the Security Council.

  But human rights as an issue are already in the Security Council, as simply the most recent example in the October 27 discussion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

  Darusman went on to say that the issues are linked because North Korea's spending on arms meant that people went hungry. Some would say, though to different degrees, this applies to some other countries, too.

  Rough transcript: "The two objectives of referring the report to the SC is to have the council consider referral to accountability mechanisms, but also to finally secure a place for discussions on human rights within the security council. In the case of DPRK, the imagery we have is a country chronically unable to secure food for its population, but at the same time able to build up its military capability at the expense of denying the fundamental right to food. Itís a direct link between human rights denial and the security risks that come out of a military build up at the expense of a population unable to feed itself."

  After saying this, Darusman asked Inner City Press, does this answer your question? It didn't, particularly on the impact of sanctions -- but aware that other journalists wanted to ask questions, Inner City Press in the manner of the new Free UN Coalition for Access let other ask.

  By contrast, the head of the old UN Correspondents Association had the first question set-aside, asked an obvious question -- does North Korea want the ICC language out of the draft? -- then insisted on similarly following up. FUNCA opposes this.

Update: FUNCA is also for transparency, and more rather than less. Scribes clustered around Darusman asking about possible changes to the draft of the co-sponsors, Japan and the European Union. Darusman referred to changes that would have the same consequences, but might be more acceptable. Video here.

   The mood of most of Darusman's press conference was that he and the journalists were part of a team, with Darusman recounting for scribes to re-type what reclusive North Koreans said. Darusman didn't even know who he'd met with, or only four of the two attendees, Deputy Ri and Counselor Kim.

 He said he conveyed their comments to the General Assembly resolution's co-sponsors, contrary to Shaheed, who said he has no involvement in the draft resolution on Iran.

When Shaheed held his press conference at the UN on October 27, Inner City Press asked him for an update on what he had said about the effect of sanctions and banning of Iran from the SWIFT payments system which Inner City Press asked him about one year and three days earlier, 2013 here from Minute 12:29.

  On October 24, 2013, Shaheed had acknowledged that the banning of Iran from the SWIFT payments system had had an impact. On October 27, 2014, Shaheed said he believes Iran is still banned from SWIFT, but he had no update. Instead he said that humanitarian exemptions to sanctions are having successes. 2014 video here.

 But banning from SWIFT or "de-SWIFT-ing" is not a targeted sanction at all, and he did not mention any exemptions to it.

   Overall, Inner City Press asked Shaheed what impact he thought "the nuclear issue" and the P5 + 1 talks have on human rights in Iran.  Shaheed said he doesn't like linkage, but added that when there's focus on the nuclear issue, it takes away from the focus on human rights. 

  Last year Inner City Press obtained and exclusively published an internal OHCHR plan to take over the "rule of law" functions of the rest of the UN system, and the staffing of the Special Representatives on Children and Armed Conflict, Sexual Violence and Conflict, R2P and the Prevention of Genocide.What has happened on that? Are rapporteurs, like sanctions monitors, still not given any training or orientation by the UN?

Footnote: on October 27, the UN Correspondents Association which so often demands the first question be set-aside for it didn't even send anyone to Shaheed's press conference. One attendee said, it's defUNCA-ed, as in defunct, or de-UNCA-ed, like de-SWIFT-ed. The new Free UN Coalition for Access, present, did not try to brand the press conference, because there was no need. Watch this site.


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