US backs UN meeting on N.Korea rights violations

AP , Tuesday 16 Dec 2014

US Ambassador Samantha Power (Photo: AP)

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the United States fully supports the U.N. Security Council's first-ever meeting next Monday on human rights violations in North Korea, which she calls "among the worst in the world."

Power said in a statement Tuesday that the council will address "the profound impact this man-made tragedy has on regional and international peace and security."

A U.N. commission of inquiry report early this year detailed widespread rights abuses in North Korea and warned that its leader Kim Jong Un could be held accountable. A draft U.N. General Assembly resolution, which is expected to be approved next week by the 193-member world body, calls on the Security Council to refer the North's human rights situation to the International Criminal Court.

Monday's council meeting follows a letter to the council president on Dec. 5 from 10 of the 15 council members requesting that North Korea's human rights situation be placed on the council agenda for debate — the first step toward a possible ICC referral.

For the council to put an issue on the agenda, support from at least nine members is required. If North Korea's allies China or Russia object on Monday, the meeting is certain to go ahead because it has support from at least the 10 members who signed the letter.

U.N. diplomats said U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic and U.N. political chief Jeffrey Feltman will brief the council at Monday afternoon's meeting.

Power said North Korea's human rights violations are widespread and systematic "and given the threat they pose to peace and security they have been going on outside the scrutiny of the U.N. Security Council for far too long."

"We look forward to the day when the North Korean people no longer have to live in fear of enslavement, rape or murder, and when those responsible for North Korea's horrors are brought to account," she said.

North Korea asked the U.N. Security Council in a letter Monday to take up the CIA's harsh treatment of terror suspects, instead of the North's own human rights situation. That would require support from nine council members, which is virtually impossible for the North to muster.

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