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North Korea UNSC Meeting Set for Dec 10, Rights Day, Ban Out of Town?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 4 -- For the past month there have been rumors, stoked in some cases by the UN, that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon may visit North Korea.

 To some it seemed strange, right after the UN's Third Committee enacted a resolution about human rights in North Korea. What that country might gain from a high level UN visit might be clear -- showing that the resolution didn't mean much -- and some surmise that the Korean Peninsula is increasingly Ban's focus. But what would be in it, from a Ban-to-DPRK visit, for the resolution's proponents?

  On December 3 the Spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the UN Hagar Chemali issued a statement that “last year in December the UN Security Council convened for the first time in history to discuss the human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Today, Chile, France, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States have requested another meeting of the Security Council to examine conditions in DPRK and their effects on international peace and security. As President of the Security Council for the month of December, the United States will now work quickly to schedule this meeting. We will provide additional details as soon as we have them.”

  Now, again from Ms. Chemali, this: "We intend to convene the Security Council meeting on the situation in the DPRK on Thursday, December 10 at 2:30 PM. We are currently working with the Secretariat to explore the availability of senior briefers from DPA and OHCHR. We will update on briefers as soon as we have more details."

  In the US Mission's December 3 statement, Ambassador Samantha Power said: “A year ago, the Security Council met for the first time on the widespread and systematic human rights violations being committed by the North Korean government. Having placed the issue on the Security Council’s agenda last year, we believe it is critical for the Council to continue to shine a light on the abuses in North Korea and speak regularly about the DPRK’s human rights situation – and what we can do to change it – for as long as the crimes committed there persist.”

   For now we can say, this would seem to make a Ban Ki-moon visit to DPRK (even) less likely, at last in December. And in January, when Uruguay is set to be UN Security Council president? Watch this site.

Back on November 17 when Ri Hung Sik, Ambassador at-large of the Democratic People's Republic of Korean, held a press conference at the North Korean mission, he said that he had heard nothing, nothing at all, about UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visiting North Korea, which Yonhap ascribed to a senior UN source.

Even when asked a leading question about a hypothetical Ban trip, Ri Hung Sik said Ban's UN would have to improve its relations with DPRK. Inner City Press is putting the audio online here, and embedded below.

 Inner City Press ran back to the UN and asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, transcript here:

Inner City Press: here was just a press conference at the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) mission, and there their minister, Ri Hung Sik, asked about the Secretary-General's possible reported trip, said he's heard nothing about it at all and that there are many rumours on the internet.  He also said that this South Korean national security law that makes it illegal for South Korean citizens to speak positively of the DPRK… that's how he described it… should be looked at by the UN.  So I wanted to know, what is the Secretary-General's view of that law?  And if that's an accurate description, is he bound by it?

Spokesman:  I'm not aware of the law.  As far as Ban Ki-moon, he is the Secretary-General of the United Nations and is doing his duty as such.

   But why did Team Ban play it so coy on Yonhap's report? Now late on November 17, the UN has issued this more specific denial:

"In response to questions asked about a report from Xinhua and the Korean Central News Agency stating that the Secretary-General would be travelling to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea next week, the Spokesman had the following to say: The Secretary-General will not be travelling to the DPRK next week. He will be in New York most of the week and then travel to Malta for the Commonwealth Summit. From there, he will go to directly to Paris to attend CoP21. The Secretary-General has repeatedly said that he is willing to play any constructive role, including traveling to the DPRK, in an effort to work for peace, stability and dialogue on the Korean Peninsula."

  Before Inner City Press left the DPRK mission on November 17, it asked Ri Hung Sik for his view of UN Special Rapporteur Marzuki Darusman and when or if UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid will visit North Korea.

  Of Darusman, Ri Hung Sik said he met him only once, and that it seems Darusman does not speak his own words, or think his own thoughts. Of Zeid, he said the discussion is of technical cooperation, but no date was given. Video here.

   During the press conference, there was no question, as at a prior DPRK press conference, about Donald Trump...


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