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On North Korea, Here is UN Simonovic's Speech, Selective

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 22 -- Two days after the full UN General Assembly voted a recommendation to the Security Council on North Korea's human rights record, with 116 in favor, 20 against and 53 abstaining, North Korea or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea issued two statements, on the vote and on the hacking of Sony. (One is below).

 On December 22, UN Assistant Secretary General Ivan Simonovic was to briefing the Security Council on DPRK at 3 pm. His office sent his speech to select journalists, embargoed until 3 pm. Inner City Press, despite previous requests to Simonovic's (and before that, Ladsous') spokesperson, was not sent the speech, and is not bound by any embargo agreement, but still waited, just to be nice. Here at 3:08 pm it is:

Mr. President,

Distinguished Members of the Council

Earlier this year, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke very vividly to this Council about, I quote, the “savageness and brutality” of crimes against humanity committed against the Korean people during the Second World War.

Ambassador Ri listed massacres, abduction, forcible recruitment, forced labor and sexual slavery, which he said, “trampled on the dignity of Korean women and of the Korean nation as a whole.”

This is the kind of compassion that we are seeking for victims in the Korean peninsula today.

Victims of extermination. Of murder, enslavement and torture. Of rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence. Victims of persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds. People who have been forcibly transferred. Whose loved ones have been abducted or disappeared withouttrace. People who have been deliberately starved for long periods.

According to the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry, these crimes have been perpetrated in the DPRK, in a widespread and systematic manner, as deliberate policy directed by the highest levels of Government. In many instances, they constitute crimes against humanity.

Before you today is the report of that Commission. Rarely has such an extensive charge-sheet of international crimes been brought to this Council’s attention. It documents a totalitarian system that is characterised by brutally enforced denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, information and association.

Songbun classification, which calibrates perceived loyalty to the State, generates extensive and damaging discrimination throughout the country. Where it intersects with gender-based
discrimination, it increases the vulnerability of women and sharply limits their opportunities.

The DPRK Government has also used denial of the right to food to control and coerce its people.

Actions by officials have caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people, according to the Commission, particularly during the famine of the 1990s – and have inflicted permanent physical and psychological injuries on survivors.

In November 2013, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food

Program (WFP) found that 84% of households – eight to nine families out of ten – were not consuming enough food. According to the latest National Nutrition Survey, in 2012, 28% of children under five suffered stunting from malnutrition, and almost 1 woman in 4 had been so starved that she risked giving birth to premature or underweight children.

DPRK nationals who manage to flee the country may fall victim to trafficking networks, and women often face forced marriage or forced prostitution. If forcibly returned, they face persecution, torture, forced abortion, prolonged arbitrary detention and even summary execution.

The Commission expressed its deepest horror at the DPRK’s political prison-camp system (kwanliso), whose inmates suffer deliberate starvation, forced labour, executions, torture, rape,forced abortion and infanticide. The Commission estimated that hundreds of thousands of prisoners have perished in these camps over the past 50 years, and that they currently hold 80,000 to 120,000 people.

DPRK representatives have acknowledged the existence of what they term “reformatories”. I firmly believe that with honesty, transparency and international assistance, we can find a way to dismantle the camp system and release and rehabilitate prisoners. Other countries in the region have shown that it is possible to release thousands of political prisoners, and to roll back systems of administrative detention.

Mr. President,

The Commission of Inquiry has highlighted the connections between the human rights situation in the DPRK and security in the region overall. The sustained military focus and nuclear priority of the Government have been pursued at the expense of the economic and social rights – as well as the lives and well-being – of its people. Comprehensive human rights violations by the DPRK have had significant impact on regional peace and security, from international abductions and enforced disappearances to trafficking and the outflow of desperate refugees.

If we are to reduce tension in the region, there must be movement towards real respect for human rights in the DPRK. This is deserving of the Security Council’s fullest attention and action.


Since the Commission of Inquiry report was published in March, with the prospect of action by this Council, the DPRK authorities have shown promising new signs of engagement with
international human rights mechanisms.

They engaged productively in its second Universal Periodic Review in the Human Rights Council, and for the first time, accepted numerous recommendations, addressing humanitarian assistance, women and children’s rights, health and education.

DPRK representatives also held an unprecedented meeting with the Special Rapporteur. The  DPRK also indicated for the first time its willingness to accept technical assistance from OHCHR.

Moreover, bilateral negotiations between the DPRK and Japan have reopened the investigations into alleged abductions of Japanese nationals. I hope this process will be conducted in transparency and good faith, leading to truth and redress for the families. It will also be important to bring clarity to reported abductions from the Republic of Korea and elsewhere.

All these developments may present an opportunity for real change. Other countries in the region have shown in the recent past that it is possible to dismantle deep-seated structures of repression and receive assistance in reform, leading to new recognition and standing in the international community.

My Office will naturally give all possible support to such progress, together with the international human rights mechanisms – and here I note that the Special Rapporteur should be invited to visit the DPRK without pre-conditions.

In March 2015, OHCHR will establish a field-based structure in Seoul, as mandated by Human Rights Council resolution 25/25. This will follow up the Commission of Inquiry, boost support to
the Special Rapporteur and serve as a hub for documentation, technical assistance and advocacy to advance accountability and improve human rights in the DPRK.


Real change in the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will require not only reform; it demands justice.

For the first time, a UN-mandated body has qualified human rights violations in the DPRK in terms of international criminal law. This is significant in establishing individual and institutional accountability, but it also invokes the international community’s responsibility to take action to prevent and punish such crimes.

An overwhelming majority of Member States in the Human Rights Council and General Assembly – as well as victims, survivors and civil society organisations around the world – have asked that you, the Security Council of the United Nations, take action on this report, including by referral to the International Criminal Court and by adopting targeted sanctions.

As we have seen this year, concerted actions by the international community can have a powerful deterrent effect, and may begin to change the policy of the DPRK.

I believe that the Security Council can advance two crucial goals: accountability, and engagement for reform. Today’s discussion has placed the DPRK on notice. The Council should carefully
monitor developments in the coming months to see whether engagement leads to real change, or should take further action.

Distinguished members of the Council,

The people of the DPRK have endured decades of suffering and cruelty. They need your  protection. And the cause of justice, peace and security in the region requires your leadership.

Thank you.

  On Monday December 22 it's said the UN Security Council will meet about North Korea -- though as of Saturday December 20 it wasn't on the Council's online schedule.

 On the UNGA vote:

The Foreign Ministry of the DPRK released the following statement on Saturday:

The efforts of the DPRK government to build the world's best power and a land of bliss for people where they are well-off as the masters under the socialist system have faced a grave challenge of the hostile forces.

The anti-DPRK "human rights resolution" which had been rammed through the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly by the U.S. was finally adopted in a forcible manner at a plenary session of the 69th UN General Assembly on Friday.

The "resolution" contains even the poisonous call for considering the matter of referring the "human rights issue" of the DPRK to the International Criminal Court, not content with malignantly hurting the DPRK's policy for ensuring genuine human rights. It is the most vivid manifestation of the U.S. harsh hostile policy toward the DPRK aimed at isolating and stifling it at any cost.

Washington, in utter disregard of the procedures and regulations of the UN, staged a farce of making the "human rights issue" of the DPRK an official agenda item by instigating its followers at the UN Security Council even before the adoption of the "resolution" at the UN General Assembly. This fact clearly proves its dangerous politically-motivated attempt to invent an excuse for mounting an invasion of the DPRK under the pretext of "human rights".

Under the present serious situation where the human rights issue of an individual country was politicized at the UN to make a dangerous precedent for abusing it for toppling the social system of the country and the human rights issue stands at the crossroads of genuine cooperation or war, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK solemnly clarifies its stand as follows:

First. The DPRK vehemently and categorically rejects the anti-DPRK "human rights resolution" rammed through the plenary session of the UN General Assembly by the hostile forces on the basis of plots, lies and fabrications and high-handed and arbitrary practices.

The "resolution", which was fabricated on the basis of the misinformation, a collection of "testimonies" made by human scum bereft of even an iota of conscience and appearance as human beings, failing to witness the actual human rights performance in the DPRK, can never remain valid no matter where and by whom it was "adopted."

Second. As the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK to mount an invasion of it under the excuse of human rights has become clear, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has lost its meaning.

The U.S. has reduced to dead papers all the agreements it made with the DPRK including the Sept. 19 joint statement adopted at the six-party talks in which the DPRK and the U.S. committed themselves to the mutual respect for sovereignty and peaceful co-existence from the moment it launched an all-out human rights showdown with the DPRK.

Third. The DPRK will take all the necessary measures, not bound to anything, to defend its sovereignty and security from the evermore undisguised moves of the U.S. to stifle it.

The DPRK will put increased spurs to its efforts to bolster up in every way its capability for self-defence including nuclear force.

The service personnel and people of the DPRK will smash the hostile forces' reckless "human rights" racket through unprecedentedly toughest counteractions and firmly defend the socialist system, their life and soul.

  On the Security Council from the EU are permanent members France and the UK, and Luxembourg which leaves in 13 days (Spain will replace it in 2015 and 2016). Ten days after ten UN Security Council members wrote to request a meeting on the situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the request was discussed behind closed doors on December 15.

  The day arrived at for the session appears to be December 22 (Inner City Press asked the Chadian President of the Security Council for December), with a moment of drama at the beginning.

 That day, the President of the Council will say, "the provision agenda is the situation in the DPRK," and any Council member has the right to object. There are, however, no veto rights on this procedural matter.

  China's Permanent Representative to the UN Liu Jieyi said China is opposed to putting DPRK on the Council's agenda, calling the situation there complex and sensitive. Will he object on December 22? Wait and see, he said.

  On December 5, ten UN Security Council council members on December 5 asked for a Council meeting on the subject.

  Inner City Press obtained the letter that day and put it online, here.

  The request, by  Australia, Chile, France, Jordan,
Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea, Rwanda,
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland and the United States of America, is to put DPRK on the Council's agenda. For this, there is no opportunity to veto, unlike on any referral to the International Criminal Court.

  In January, there are five new members on the Council: Venezuela, Angola, Malaysia, Spain and New Zealand.

  Back on November 18 in the UN's Third Committee India said, in the fast transcription Inner City Press published that day, "We have abstained on the vote. We had voted in favor of the Cuban amendment. One of the main reason for India being unable to sign on to the ICC is that this doesn't allow the court to be free from political interference. The Security Council has the power to refer, the power to block, and the power to refer non-state parties. No state can be forced to be bound by a treaty it has not accepted. The Rome Statute violates international law. It gives state parties the power to refer non-state parties. OP 7 and OP 8 represent the very reasons against our joining the statute.It is unfortunate that matters on human rights have been taken to a vote."

 Earlier, after Cuba's proposed amendment was voted down, with 40 in favor, 77 against and 50 abstaining, DPRK itself spoke. Here is a fast transcription:

We express profound to all delegations that supported the amendment this morning.

"Regarding the draft resolution, the DPRK rejects the draft resolution. It is a product of political and military confrontation with no relevance to human rights. The EU and Japan submitted the resolution based on the reports of the Commission of Inquiry, which has never been to the country at all. The reports of the CoI is only based on fabricated testimonies of a handful of people who fled the country, abandoning their loved ones. The report is a compilation of groundless political accusations. We have maintained a position of rejecting confrontation and giving priority to dialogue and cooperation. The EU and Japan chose to provoke confrontation. The draft fails to reflect reality on the ground. Some member states of the EU and Japan hastily included dirty materials as leaflets flown by defectors. We do not feel any need to appeal to anyone to come and see the reality of our country, where politics and social system are all for the people. The Eu and Japan disclosed that the goal was subservience and sycophancy to the US and hostility to the DPRK from the outset, thus closing the door to doalogue.

  "We shall strongly respond without slightest tolerance to any attempt to abuse the human rights issue as a tool for eliminating the social system of the DPRK. There is a hostile policy pursued by the US against the DPRK with a view to eliminating the social system of the country by means of force. The US instigated its followers to accuse us of crimes against humanity. The US unleashed a war in Yugoslavia, claiming to prevent crimes against humanity. It is now clear that all crimes of aggression committed by the US are linked to the vicious human rights campaign. We need to maintain powerful state capability to defend our people and their human rights.

"This compels us not to refrain any further from conducting nuclear tests. In light of the human rights campaign we shall keep in our hearts pride and honor about the socialist system which was chosen by our people .The current draft resolution is confrontational in nature and will result in serious consequences. We wish to request a recorded vote and will vote against it. We encourage the representatives of the UN member states to vote against this confrontational resolution."

Before the vote on Cuba's amendment, South Africa spoke in support of the amendment, fast transcription here:

"We take the floor to support the Cuban proposal for the amendments of this res, in matters of principles. We agree with the views expressed, that this resolution is not balanced. The proposal Cuba is making would balance. We support the view Cuba raises about the dangerous precedent, as well as referring matters to the Security Council that do not belong in the realm of the Security Council.

 "The Security Council can deal with any other matter in the world, without having the General Assembly urge it to do so. We find the res to be contradictory. There is a reference to the DPRK having gone through the UPR, but in the Operative Paragraph, the first OP condemns the longstanding violations in the DPRK. We find that to be a contradiction.... We will support the Cuban proposal."

  Here is a fast transcription of what the Cuba representative said:

I would like to note that on the webpage there is a text in which we request that only the initial part of our amendment be maintained. The rest of the text will be eliminated. This had been included in the resolution but we wish to maintain only the first part.

This does not necessarily reflect human rights in the DPRK. Cuba has maintained a clear position on this matter and will vote against the resolution. We are not trying to prevent the SC from looking at the report of the Commission of Inquiry. Rather, Cuba is taking a position of principle. A number of delegations referred to the trigger mechanism, whereby the Human Rights Council is turning in to a tool used by some countries to attack others. Countries for which dialogue is not interesting, countries that don't want to promote human rights or uphold economic and social rights.

This resolution has been used to est a pattern which would endanger all developing countries. It creates a procedure under the Human Rights Council whereby there's no debate, the country in question isn't consulted, and has no chance to clarify the situation. It undermines the purpose of the council.

There's been a call to refer to the ICC. All these proposals will undermine the ICC. The ICC is a tool used against some developing countries, being used by more powerful countries. We haven't had time to explain our truth, and we would like to see a greater spirit of cooperation in terms of giving the country in question a chance to clarify.

We're trying to ensure that a precedent isn't being set. This would further damage the credibility of the council. This is political manipulation. We're not looking for confrontation. We believe where there's a will to cooperate, that will must be recognized. We don't want the situation to be exacerbated. We don't want to see people deprived of sovereignty.

Cuba has taken a position of principle. Every time attempts are made to manipulate the process, to use the council as a tool, we will take a stand.

  Here was the full text of Cuba's amendment:

Cuba: amendment to draft resolution A/C.3/69/L.28

Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic
of Korea

Delete operative paragraphs 7 and 8 and insert a new operative paragraph 7 reading as follows:

Decides to adopt a new cooperative approach to the consideration of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that will enable: (a) the establishment of dialogues by representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with States and groups of States interested in the issue; (b) the development of technical cooperation between the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; and (c) the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the country;

   In the Third Committee on November 17, others disassociated themselves from the portions of the Human Rights Council's resolution on their country-specific mandates, including Iran and Eritrea, which also argued that Norway had erroneously stated that the African Group supported the mandate against it.

 There was a dispute when Mauritania tried to present as the African Group's statement on the report of the Human Rights Council a text that after challenged it admitted South African had not agreed to. We'll have more on this.

 On North Korea, as Inner City Press reported on November 4, here, a wider range of countries have expressed concern to the European Union and Japan about not only the ICC language, but also a reference to the Responsibility to Protect.

  While these countries may not constitute the majority to derail the proposal, if an amendment along the lines of their concerns is proposed, the waters will be clouded. This should be next week.

  On November 8 the US announced that the Democratic People Republic of Korea released U.S. citizens Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller, held for two years and seven months, respectively.

  The US State Department said "We also want to thank our international partners, especially our Protecting Power, the Government of Sweden, for their tireless efforts to help secure the freedom of Mr. Bae and Mr. Miller. The Department of State reiterates our strong recommendation against all travel by U.S. citizens to the DPRK."

  This comes amid talk that the proposed referral of North Korean human rights to the UN Security Council for follow-on referral to the International Criminal Court might be traded away for a visit. Some are opposing the ICC language on other grounds, Inner City Press has learned.

   Some non-aligned countries have told the resolution's co-sponsors the European Union and Japan that they do not favor the language on the ICC, nor on the Responsibility to Protect, these sources exclusively tell Inner City Press.

  More recently Inner City Press has heard from sources not sponsoring the resolution that an amendment will be offered to strip out the ICC and other language, but may not pass. And now?

  Meanwhile, the Security Council's president for November Gary Quinlan of Australia indicated on November 4 that some of his colleagues in the Council -- certainly not all - think the Security Council can directly consider the question of referring North Korea to the ICC. Is the position based on guessing there would not be a veto? Or to work around a loss of momentum in the General Assembly's Third Committee? We'll continue on this.

  The draft in Operative Paragraph 7

"Encourages the Security Council to consider the relevant conclusions and recommendations of the commission of inquiry and take appropriate action, including through consideration of referral of the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to the International Criminal Court; and consideration of the scope for effective targeted sanctions against those who appear to be most responsible for crimes against humanity."

  The drafters note that this language is "BASED ON OP 7 HRC25/25+ OP10 68/182 SYRIA INT. CRIM. JUSTICE MECH. REFERRAL."

  The draft also "expresses its very deep concern at the precarious  humanitarian  situation in the country, which could rapidly deteriorate owing to limited resilience to natural disasters and to government policies causing limitations in the availability of and access to food." UN humanitarian official John Ging recently told the press how under-funded the UN's aid appeal for DPRK is.

  A US' September 23 event was at the Waldorf Astoria. The speakers were the US' Robert King, then John Kerry, then an articulate escapee, the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan and finally UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid of Jordan.

  Afterward Inner City Press asked Zeid if it was he who brought the blue UN flag to the event which was not in the UN and did not play by the UN rules of "right of reply." He laughed, graciously. The bombing in Syria had begun only the night before.

  Back on August 25 when North Korean deputy ambassador Ri Tong Il held a UN press conference inside the UN, he described his government's August 18 letter to the UN Security Council requesting an emergency meeting about the US - South Korean joint military exercises, Ulchi Freedom Guardian.

  On August 20, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's first letter arose in Security Council consultations. As Inner City Press reported that day, the Council's president for August Mark Lyall Grant of the UK said that China had raised the issue of the letter, asking for other members' views. He said no further action or consideration of the letter is expected.

   After Ri Tong Il on August 25 said no response had been received, Inner City Press asked him if, beyond what Lyall Grant said at the stakeout, a formal letter should have been sent.

  Citing a US military web site which lists 10 other countries involved in UFJ, including the UK and France, Inner City Press what about the other countries in the joint military exercises, are they just a fig leaf?

  Ri Tong Il answered the second question first saying that the US never gives troup numbers, and that every time the US is talking about troops, under pretext of exercise they bring in nuclear weapons, aircraft carrier George Washington, B52, Tomahawk missiles. And they have all related weapons. And now concerning number of troops, over half a million. You can see, they are ready to move at any time. With full capacity. Plus, over 40,000 civilian population of South Korea. This is a full scale war exercise and the word ewcercise is not proper one. They are fully ready since they have been holding them annually.
 On the letter(s), Ri Tong Il said concerning the response from the UNSC, we in the name of the Permanent Repressentative presented a formal request addressed to His Excellency Grant, and in established practice of protocol whatever answer should be addressed to us. They’re not showing any respect even for the protocol. They should reply.

  Inner City Press immediately asked the UK Mission to the UN, whose spokesperson Iona Thomas quickly replied, "On the letter, it is my understanding that there is no requirement to respond to such requests in writing.  As the Ambassador said at the stakeout on Wednesday, there was no support in the Council for discussing the issue."

  Perhaps burying the lead on August 25 Ri Tong Il said, "The entire army of DPRK is closely watching. DPRK will conduce the most powerful pre-emptive nuclear strike against the US since the US openly decleared it would use so-called tailored deterrents. As long as the US exposes its intention to remove the government of Pyongyang, the DPRK responds the same way by making out conter-actions on a regular basis."

  Back on August 1, Inner City Press asked Ri Tong Il if he had asked for the letter to be formally circulated, or would North Korea take it to the General Assembly?

  Ri Tong Il replied that it is not a question of approaching individual countries, but a formal request to the Security Council. Inner City Press inquired with the mission of Rwanda, July's president, and got a copy of the letter and the response that there was no consensus for holding the requested emergency meeting. Inner City Press has put the letter online here.

  Also, at the bottom of this page is a fast transcript of the press conference, by Inner City Press & the Free UN Coalition for Access.

Inner City Press also asked Ri Tong Il for an update on his mission's announcement thirteen months ago that it sought the end of the so-called “UN Command” in South Korea. Ri Tong Il said his country remains opposed to it:

On UN command, the DPRK is consistently insisting on the dismantling of UN Command in South Korea. This is a UN body but not under the direction of the UN, it is not under the approval of its budget. If you look at the inside nature, 100 percent US troops. This is a typical example of position of power by the US. It should be dismantled. And we are raising it to the UN on a regular basis.

  Later on August 1 Inner City Press asked Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, if Ban has received North Korea's letter complaining about the Seth Rogen film “The Interview.” (Inner City Press has commented on the letter, here.). Dujarric said the letter has been received, but Ban has no response.

  Ban, of course, was South Korea's foreign minister. His c.v. or biography, including for a recent op-ed about Haiti (where the UN brought cholera and then has dodged accountability), states that Ban previously served as “Director of the UN’s International Organizations and Treaties Bureau.”

 Other iterations say he was director of the “UN’s International Organizations and Treaties Bureau in South Korea, Seoul” (here). So was that really a UN (or “UN's”) agency? Or is is like the UN Command? Watch this site.

Footnote: In Ri Tong Il's press conference, the UN Correspondents Association demanded the first question, and gave it to a representative of a media from Japan - another representative of which took a second question, before other media got even one. While both are genial, this is how UNCA, a/k/a the UN's Censorship Alliance, works.

The new Free UN Coalition for Access is opposed to any set-asides or automatic first questions. Also, despite the continued censorship of the question, the Free UN Coalition for Access believes that at a minimum the UN should disclose “in kind” (or gift) private jet travel for Ban Ki-moon paid for by a state. We'll have more on this. Watch this site.


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