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At UN, Korean Themes of Seoul G-20 & Ban 2d Term, DPRK Human Rights Meeting: Transcripts

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 22 -- The theme at the UN on Friday was Korea, Korea, both North and the South.

  Alongside a festival of Korean food in the soon to close Delegates' Dining Room -- the shinsunro spicy seafood soup was particularly good -- and a UN Day concert by a Korean symphony, South Korean UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressed a closed meeting of member states about the upcoming G-20 meeting in Seoul.

  Sources tell Inner City Press that statements of support for a second term for Ban are being solicited to be unveiled in Seoul at the G-20, as they were not at the General Debate last month in New York.

  Across the hallway of the UN's North Lawn Building in Conference Room 1, North Korea was the topic of a Third Committee of the GA, on human rights. Numerous western speakers urged North Korea, formally the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, to allow a visit by the Special Rapporteur on human rights in that country, Marzuki Darusman.

  Darusman, who is simultaneously the chairman of Ban Ki-moon's strangely silent advisory panel on accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka, recounted how he has tried to get permission to visit the country.

At the end, North Korea's Deputy Permanent Representative asked for the “right to reply.” The Committee's chairman, the Permanent Representative of Cameroon, said this was an interactive session with no right to reply. A statement, then, the North Korean said.

  Transcripts, by Friends on Inner City Press, are below.

He said his country had in the past allowed “Amnesty International, NGO's and the European Union” to visit the DPRK. But, he said, as soon as his country dropped out of the NPT nuclear non proliferation treaty, a resolution on human rights was introduced. We cannot accept it, he said.

The North Korean took particularly exception to Japan, bringing up “forced conscriptions” in World War II and what he called broken promises.

Team Ban meets DPRK, shinsunro and G-20 endorsements not shown

  On the issue of abductions of Japanese citizens, he said, a nationwide search had been conducted.

Japan asked for the floor and said that only five of 17 had been returned, and there might be more. This seemed a strangely narrow response to what North Korea said, that the whole human rights focus on North Korea was just “political.”

The Cameroonian chair ended the session with what he said were African proverbs, about a star lighting up the darkest night. (There is also the proverb about the UN translators stopping work at 6 pm).

Across the hall, the closed door meeting with Ban Ki-moon continued. Why was it closed? Swiss sources tell Inner City Press that the Swiss office of President of the GA Joseph Deiss said it was the G-20 which asked to close the meeting to the Press.

On Ban's way out, he and his chief of staff chatted amiably with Sri Lanka's Ambassador Palitha Kohona. The North Korean DPR was nowhere to be seen. But the Korean symphony was about to play.

Transcriptions by Friends on Inner City Press:

Statement by the DPRK: Pak Tok Hun, Deputy Ambassador

We neither recognize nor accept the mandates of the special rapporteur appointed by the anti-DPRK resolution of EU and Japan adopted annually at the UN Human Rights for, nor to speak of the resolution. This is our principled position. … The resolution is a document of political plot fabricated by hostile forces in their attempt to isolate and stifle our system. Also, the report of special rapporteur is nothing more than a tool used to serve this purpose. The European Union had various contacts and dialogue in the field of human rights including official human rights talks with our country since 2001. However, upon the withdrawal of our country from the nonproliferation treaty in January 2003, EU surprisingly initiated and forcibly enforced the adoption of its first resolution on the DPRK without any prior notice or consultation with us at 59th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in April 2003, this roughly 2 and a half months after our withdrawal from the NPT, in conspiracy with the United States in Japan, and they have been continuing to do so in the UN human rights mechanisms each year. If they have no ulterior motives of the DPRK, there would be no reason whatsoever to choose to initiate the confrontation resolution renouncing the human rights dialogue and contacts with us which had been in good progress. The purpose is clear: the promotion and protection of human rights is only in words. In reality, what they pursue is to change the ideology and system of our country. It is up to the Korean people themselves what ideals and system they choose. Mr. Chairman, we will in future to further consolidate and develop our socialist system for promotion and protection of human rights in keeping with the aspiration of our people and the ability of our country.

Statement by the United States: Robert King, Special Envoy for North Korea Human Rights Issues

[congratulates new special rapporteur] We hope the gov of the DPRK will recognize the special rapporteur’s mandate, grant him access to the country, and work with him to improve human rights in the DPRK. It was unfortunate that the previous special rapporteur was not permitted to visit the country. ...

The people of the DPRK continue to suffer from human rights abuses. Moreover, the November 2009 currency revaluation and subsequent clampdown on markets greatly restricted the population's ability to provide for their own basic needs. We would ask the new special rapporteur for his thoughts no what more the international community can do to help the people provide for themselves and what more the donor community can do to make sure resources reach the most vulnerable parts of the population. The United States is particularly concerned about the plight of North Korean refugees and asylum seekers. We call on the DPRK to end the punishment and imprisonment of returned asylum seekers and their families. Improving conditions in the country requires an innovative and collaborative approach. [We are interested in the special rapporteur's] insights into how countries can cooperate to advance human rights issues in the DPRK.

The United States values the universal periodic review process and was encouraged by the DPRK’s active participation in the Dec 2009 review. We note the DPRK’s willingness to consider 117 recommendations from the international community but we were discouraged by the DPRK's refusal to identify those recommendations that they were willing to consider. The US would be interested in the special rapporteur's insight into how the UPR can be better utilized to improve human rights in the DPRK. The US looks forward to working with you on this important mandate.

Statement by the Republic of Korea: Kim Soo-Gwon, Minister Counsellor

[congratulates special rapporteur] Unfortunately, however, the task of carrying out the mandate has never been easy, and we are concerned to note that the expertise and experience of the previous special rapporteur were not utilized to the full extent. Korean government shares the deep concern with international community over the continuing reports of grave and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the DPRK. We are also disappointed at the refusal of the DPRK to accept any of the recommendations made in the UPR by the HRC in Dec 2009. Against this backdrop, we believe that the role of the special rapporteur assumes all the more importance as a facilitator in promoting cooperation between the country concerned and the international community. In this regard we welcome the special rapporteur’s proposed approach based on dialogue and cooperation with the DPRK. My delegation believes cooperation is important in protection of human rights, but here lies our gravest concern. The persistent refusal of the country to cooperate with the international community, in particular the refusal to recognize the mandate of the special rapporteur and to allow him to visit the country. In this regard, firstly my delegation would like to hear the special rapporteur’s thoughts on how he would address the issue of access to the country in question. Secondly, ... his approach could start with humanitarian direction without diminishing the human rights dimension, we would be grateful if he could further elaborate on that.

Let me conclude by saying that we very much look forward to the future work of the special rapporteur. It is our sincere hope that his cooperative approach will bear fruit and contribute to the advances in the promotion and protection of human rights in the DPRK. We call on the DPRK to respond in good faith to the special rapporteur’s call for cooperation. I would like to take the opportunity to assure my government's full cooperation to the special rapporteur in the fulfillment of his challenging mandate in the future.

Statement by Japan: Kazuo Kodama, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Japan attaches importance to the role of the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK. ... Japan will extend its maximum possible cooperation to the special rapporteur for his activities to perform his mandate. It is very clear that serious violations of human rights in the DPRK still remain. We are deeply concerned by the action of the DPRK to protect the right to life, as well as its strict restrictions on the civil and political rights of its people. The issue of abduction of Japanese citizens by the DPRK also remains unresolved. In August 2008, the DPRK

and Japan agreed on the overall objectives and concrete modalities of the investigation on the abduction issue. However, the DPRK has not translated the agreement into concrete action to date. While we heard the clear statements by the DPRK at the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in November 2008 that it was ready to launch a reinvestigation into the abduction issue, no concrete actions have been taken by the DPRK.

As PM Khan stated at the 65th Session of the General Assembly last month, if the DPRK takes constructive and sincere steps such as implementing its agreement with Japan, Japan is ready to respond in kind. To date, the DPRK has never granted access to the special rapporteur to the country and the direct dialogue between the DPRK and the special rapporteur has yet to be realized. We expect your concrete efforts would result in a concrete outcome to improve the situation of human rights in the DPRK by taking an approach of constructive dialogue with DPRK, as the special rapporteur himself emphasized in the conclusion of his report.

In you recent report, you mentioned that you will submit your first report to the HRC in March next year, and your approach will start with humanitarian direction without in any way diminishing the human rights direction. I would like to know how you contemplate to translate such an approach into concrete ideas or action.

Statement by the European Union: Peter Schwaiger, DPR European Union Delegation

EU remains seriously concerned about the current situation in the DPRK which continues to command international attention. The prevailing grave violations and alarming lack of a broad range of human rights are described in detail in the report of the Secretary-General. The situation was thoroughly discussed in the Universal Periodic Review in Dec 2009 and the Human Rights Council in March 2010. We regret that severe restrictions on political rights and fundamental freedoms and alarming situation in prisons and detention centers, allegations of extrajudicial execution and torture, forced labor, criminal sanctions imposed on people trying to leave the country, the absence of an independent judiciary and of institutions to protect human rights, as well as multiple violations of social, economic, and cultural life, continue to dominate the reports on the DPRK. The European Union also notes with concern that despite some limited improvements regarding the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the activities of UN agencies in DPRK, the Secretary-General describes an urgent need for the DPRK to take immediate steps to ensure the enjoyment of the right to food, water, sanitation, health, and to allocate greater budgetary support to that end. We are also alarmed with the continuing lack of cooperation with international mechanisms. We encourage the DPRK to ratify further international human rights treaties and urgent the government to cooperate fully with the special rapporteur and other special proecdures. It is with this in mind that we will present a draft resolution on DPRK during the 65th UNGA to draw attention once again to this grave situation and to urge the government of DPRK to address outstanding issues as a matter of urgency. ...

China: Counsellor Dan Zhang

The Chinese delegation wishes to thank Mr. Darusman for his presentation. China always stands for dealing with human rights issues through contructive dialogue and cooperation, and opposes passing country-specific human rights resolutions or establishing country-specific human rights mechanisms. Criticism and pressure cannot impact positively on a human rights situation; on the contrary, it causes unnecessary confrontation. We hope the international community will take a more practical and constructive approach and focus more on the challenge of economic and social development currently facing the DPRK, provide it with effective humanitarian assistance. We hope the rapporteur will play a positive role of promotion in this regard.

We have noted the special rapporteur indicates in his report that he will carry out his work in constructive cooperation instead of confrontation. We hope he will effectively carry out these principles, make effective, balanced assessment of the human rights situation in the DPRK, and make more efforts in favor of promoting the economic and social development in DPRK and stability on the Korean peninsula.

Mr. Chairman, the Chinese government, always in accordance with domestic law and international law and humanitarian principles, to cautiously deal with the illegal cross border people, immigrant who cross the border, we carried out positive and active cooperation with the parties concerned.

The practice of the Chinese government is in line with the parties concerned. It also wins the universal understanding of the international community. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Thank you...

I'd like to express my appreciation for the deep concern that has been voiced, but at the same time the goodwill that prevails out there to see that the mandate is able to be discharged in accordance with the resolution. As I mentioned, I was able to assume the task of special rapporteur only in August 2010, and therefore, having assumed the task in a very short period, will have to ask you to bear with me in that perhaps a substantive report will only be able to be submitted in March, after possibly visiting the area and hoping of course to be able also to access to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

In order not to keep this session in the dark as to the issue, whether or not it will be possible to visit the country, may I just inform the assembly early on that an early gesture from the Special Rapporteur was to communicate with the permanent mission of the DPRK in Geneva, and to seek a meeting with the permanent mission there. At the same time, subsequently, also to seek the possibility of entry in the DPRK. I had written two submissions. One was to meet with the DPRK mission in Geneva. That was responded in a way that made it not possible at that time to meet with the mission in Geneva. I also submitted a request early on to the government of the DPRK to be able to enter the country. At this point, I have not been able to receive a favorable decision on this matter. I''m informing the assembly here on the facts early on, so that we go out from an existing situation, and I will certainly hope to be able to seek alternative ways to communicate further with the government of the DPRK.

Now, if you allow me I will just touch, perhaps merge some of the questions here into one or two issues that have come up in question time. One relates to the approach that I would seek to adopt. I had earlier mentioned that the signs of involvement of the DPRK in the work of several UN entitites which have implemented humanitarian programs in the country has intensified in the last period, and secondly that the DPRK had also been participating in the UPR. And this perhaps contrasts with the situation previously. And in that sense, it is my hope that these signs would constitute an opening of a possible approach which would be engaging, much more intensively, the involvement of the DPRK government in the discharge of this mandate. I continue to hope that this possibility is open, and that by stating the overall approach of the special rapporteur, in terms of the cooperative and dialogue approach, appeal to the DPRK to be able to engage with the special rapporteur in the discharge of its mandate.

Now, with regards to the humanitarian approach as I have indicated in my full report, it is clear that humanitarian issues may not be a substitute to the implementation of human rights as a whole. Although I certainly recognize that humanitarian rights constitute an integral part of the overall human rights and ideal, the intention to consdier humanitarian approiach would be not to substitute the human rights approach, but to align the humanitarian approach with the case of the past years. I might note, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Chairman, that my predecessor Mr. Muntarbhorn, who had assumed the mandate for 5 years, had been prevented from entering the country, and therefore it will be my intention to aside from recognizing that there are ongoing issues of human rights, it is of utmost importance that communication be established to make it possible for the mandate holder to discharge his duties. Communication with the government of the DPRK. And that will perhaps initially be the focus of the special rapporteur in endeavoring as much as possible to engage the willingness of the DPRK government to engage with the special rapporteur.

I certainly take the comments of the UK that it is not easy to verify information if the special rapporteur is not allowed to enter the country. And therefore I do take this opportunity to recognize that indirect approaches will also be necessary, through third coutnries to congvey the intention of the special rapporteur to convey to the government of the DPRK his intention to conduct a dialogue approach with the DPRK.

At the end, as I mentioned in my statement, I would seek your understanding that I will not be in a position to comment on any substantive issues until I have been able to conduct a visit and assess the situation, that will appear in my report next year.

Response by DPRK: Pak Tok Hun

I closely followed some of the statements and comments made by the Western countries, US, UK, EU in particular. But I cannot agree with their assertion considering the human rights situation in my country. In my country, we don't have such a serious what they call systematic human rights violations in my country. Some delegations ask us, if there is none, why don't you accept the special rapporteur? Since they discriminate my country, we cannot accept that request.

As I told the committee, this is not the issue of human rights. We had very close contacts and cooperation with the UN human rights bodies in the past. We invited internationals, we invited special rapporteur on violence against women of United Nations, we invited many delegations including the NGO delegation, against torture. We invited the European Union to come to my country to visit the prisons and meet the prisoners there. And we had constant and regular contacts and dialogue with the European Union. We regularly met with with the Ambassadors of European Union countries in our capital. We had, as I told you, we had an official human rights dialogue in the context of high level political talks. I had the privilege to participate in the human rights talks with the EU in the past 2 years which began in 2001. But that human rights dialogues, contacts with the EU, lasted only one and a half years. As I told you ... after withdrawing from the NPT, in just 2 months, the EU surprisingly and secretly, without contacting us, without any prior information, they railroaded a resolution against my country. What do they want? Do they still want dialogue and contact with us? This is not human rights issue. This is a political issue, a serious political issue. That's why we cannot accept, we cannot accept that resolution. We cannot accept their request to allow the visit. We used to visit, we used to allow many people, but since the resolution we cannot. This is our principled position.

Second, concerning the abduction issue, as I told you a few days earlier, we did our best to solve this issue. I hope many of the delegations would have a correct understanding of this issue. Abduction issue, little more than 10 Japanese citizens. As the Japanese delegate said, yes we had agreed with Japan that we would reinvestigate, as Japanese request us to, abduction issue in our country. Japan also agreed with us that they would take some measures if we do that, so we informed Japan we create national investigation of abductees, the missing persons from Japan. We informed the Japanese authorities the results of the investigation. We returned all those alive to Japan with their children. And then Japan asks us to reinvestigate. We said, we organized the investigation. Japan agreed that if we informed them the organization of the investigation, they would take measures to lift the sanctions against my country. But what Japan did? Instead, reinforced the sanctions against my country. We did what we can, so far. But Japan has done nothing, only created obstacles. I don't know how long Japan will say what they said today. It took over 60 years for Japan to acknowledge the forced draft of 8.1 million Koreans, but they haven't recognized the responsibility for that, nor to speak of redress. I wonder how many decades it will take more for Japan to sincerely recognize the legal, moral responsibility for the crimes against humanity committed in Korea as well as many Asian countries.

Response by Japan: Kazuo Kodama

... I think what I just heard from the DPRK on the very important issue of the human rights, which includes the Japanese citizens, and also the DPRK to date, let me just share the factual, the information, because I think it's vitally relevant to the future of the work of the special rapporteur. ... At present, out of the 17 Japanese citizen nationals recognized by the government of Japan as having been abducted by the DPRK, only 5 have returned home and the DPRK has yet to provide a satisfactory explanation to the fates of the remaining 12. There are other cases of disappearances where we cannot rule out the possibility of abduction. ... In the Japan-DPRK working-level consultations held in August 2008, both sides agreed on the overall objectives and concrete modalities of the comprehensive investigation on this issue. We believe the DPRK should move forward on making good on this promise by establishing an authorized investigation committee and commencing the investigation without delay. What is essential here is action, in keeping to the agreement reached. ... We sincerely hope and would like to urge the DPRK government to establish and authorize and investigation committee and commence the investigation without delay

Response by DPRK: Pak Tok Hun

Japan mentioned about these 17 missing persons. We have already informed them, there are only 13, and we informed them all the information about the fate of those 13. According to reports in Japan, those Japanese who they said were abducted by my country appeared in Japan already. How can you explain that? How can you insist that still we abducted them? Second, you told us that, as we agreed in the 2008 agreement, we have already informed you, I told you, the organization of official investigation team. That's what we had to do. That's our responsibility. We organized, we informed the Japanese. But what Japanese had to do? They had to take some measures, in particular, lifting measures to life sanctions against my country. They did nothing. They did nothing so far. I wish Japan would see the reality clearly and not lie to this international community. We have already told you many times, if Japan raise any more questions, okay, we will answer all the questions, and we will do our part, we will do our best for the improvement of relations. But unless there is no [liquidation?] of its past against Korea, there is no such good relations between our two countries. I wish Japan to do its best for Japan to redress, sincerely think and apologize, redress the past. That's the only way for Japan to appear with clean face. I thank you.

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