U.N. slams North Korea for not prioritizing people
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.