Advocacy at the United Nations

In 1997, NKHR began its advocacy work at the United Nations to mobilize the international community to condemn the human rights abuses in North Korea. Our first major 3 accomplishment was contributing to the appointment of a UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the DPRK in 2004. Since then, NKHR has continued its advocacy at the United Nations by hosting international conferences, briefing various UN agencies and treaty-monitoring bodies, organizing parallel meetings during sessions of the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, and lobbying member states. Another major milestone was the establishment of the UN Commission of Inquiry in 2013 and the subsequent briefing on crimes against humanity in North Korea at the UN Security Council in 2014. NKHR also keeps the North Korean government accountable in front of the international community by continuously monitoring North Korea’s statements at the UN, changes to North Korea’s laws and its legal system, and the actual situation on the ground in North Korea.   ​NKHR closely works with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the DPRK and various other UN special procedures. It regularly submits cases of abduction of South Korean nationals by North Korea to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

​Some of NKHR’s most important achievements at the United Nations include:​

  • Lobbying for the first resolution on North Korean human rights by the then UN Human Rights Commission (replaced by UN Human Rights Council) and the subsequent establishment of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the DPRK in 2004.
  • ​December 2012 meeting with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, to encourage prioritizing North Korean human rights. Following 4 the meeting, Ms. Pillay issued a strong statement calling for an investigation into possible crimes against humanity in North Korea.  
  • Establishment of the 2013 Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. NKHR lobbied foreign governments for the historic UN resolution establishing the Commission. The Commission’s report found crimes against humanity in North Korea and recommended referral of North Korean officials to an international justice mechanism.
  • Strong resolutions from both the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly following the UN Commission of Inquiry’s 2014 report that, for the first time, called for legal accountability for the North Korean regime. NKHR advocated in both Geneva and New York to increase support among member states for those groundbreaking resolutions.
  • First-ever official discussion of North Korea’s human rights violations at the UN Security Council, in part as a result of NKHR’s advocacy following the Commission of Inquiry’s report.
  • Briefings and submissions of NKHR reports to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 2005 and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2009.
  • Participation in North Korea’s Universal Periodic Review in both 2010 and 2014. NKHR submitted reports and recommendations and briefed member states during both UPR cycles.

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