U.N. slams North Korea for not pri­or­i­tiz­ing peo­ple

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - International - By Edith M. Led­erer

UNITED NA­TIONS — A key U.N. com­mit­tee ap­proved a res­o­lu­tion Tues­day con­demn­ing North Korea for di­vert­ing its re­sources to pur­sue nu­clear weapons and bal­lis­tic mis­siles in­stead of help­ing its peo­ple, over half of whom need more food and im­proved med­i­cal care.

The res­o­lu­tion spon­sored by the Euro­pean Union and Ja­pan was adopted with­out a vote by the Gen­eral Assem­bly’s hu­man rights com­mit­tee. It has 61 co-spon­sors and now goes to the 193-mem­ber assem­bly, which is cer­tain to adopt it in De­cem­ber.

Es­to­nia’s deputy U.N. am­bas­sador Minna-Li­ina Lind, speak­ing on be­half of the EU, ac­cused North Korea of com­mit­ting se­ri­ous hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions “in a wide­spread and sys­tem­atic way,” in­clud­ing by its “in­hu­mane con­di­tions in de­ten­tion camps,” re­stricted free­dom of move­ment and lim­i­ta­tions on the right to in­for­ma­tion.

Ja­pan’s U.N. Am­bas­sador Koro Bessho said that de­spite the needs of North Kore­ans, au­thor­i­ties “con­tinue to di­vert their re­sources into pur­su­ing nu­clear weapons and bal­lis­tic mis­siles over the wel­fare of its peo­ple.”

North Korea’s U.N. Am­bas­sador Ja Song Nam told the com­mit­tee be­fore the vote that the gov­ern­ment “cat­e­gor­i­cally re­jects” the res­o­lu­tion.

He called it “a prod­uct of the po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion, plot and con­spir­acy of the United States and other hos­tile forces.”

Mr. Ja ac­cused the U.S. and its al­lies of re­sort­ing to “un­prece­dented mil­i­tary threat and black­mail, sanc­tions and pres­sure” against North Korea, stress­ing that U.S. sanc­tions are at­tempt­ing “to elim­i­nate the rights to sur­vival and de­vel­op­ment of our state.”

He said that on the pre­text of im­ple­ment­ing sanc­tions, the de­liv­ery of medicine and med­i­cal equip­ment to North Korea has been cut, and most aid ac­tiv­i­ties by in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions work­ing in the coun­try for over 20 years have been set back or re­duced.

The res­o­lu­tion doesn’t ad­dress the im­pact of sanc­tions, only the im­pact of di­vert­ing re­sources to ad­vance nu­clear weapons and bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­grams on the hu­man­i­tar­ian and hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion in North Korea.

Fol­low­ing the im­pris­on­ment of Amer­i­can col­lege stu­dent Otto Warm­bier, who re­turned home in June with brain dam­age and died days later, the res­o­lu­tion strongly urges North Korea to pro­vide non-cit­i­zens who are de­tained free­dom of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and ac­cess to con­sular of­fi­cials.

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