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Madame Chair,

The European Union and Japan, on behalf of all the co-sponsors, have the honour to address this Committee before we take action on the draft resolution entitled “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, contained in document L.28/REV1.

At the time of tabling the revised version of this text, 58 States had cosponsored this draft proposal. Since then, Maldives, Marshall Islands, New Zealand and Serbia have become co-sponsors of this initiative. I would like to thank our co-author, Japan, for the cooperation throughout this process.

Madame Chair,

This is the tenth time that the General Assembly will take action on a resolution which expresses its grave concern at the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). This year, the findings of the landmark report of the Commission of Inquiry concluded that the gravity, scale and nature of the human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reveal a State “without parallel in the contemporary world”. The Commission of Inquiry also underlined the pervasive culture of impunity and the lack of accountability for the perpetrators and found that a number of these human rights violations may amount to crimes against humanity.

We are extremely concerned by the finding that crimes against humanity may have been and may continue to be committed by institutions and officials of this country, pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the State. The Commission of Inquiry has called for the United Nations to “ensure that those most responsible for the crimes against humanity committed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are held accountable” and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has stressed that “achieving accountability is paramount”.

Therefore, this draft resolution encourages the Security Council to take appropriate action to ensure accountability, including through consideration of a referral to the International Criminal Court.

The co-sponsors of this resolution have not hesitated to welcome some positive steps taken this year by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This included the acceptance of 113 out of 268 recommendations during its second Universal Periodic Review process. There have also been consultations between the DPRK and Japan to address issues related to the Japanese nationals in the DPRK, in particular the immediate return of abductees.

During the deliberations on this initiative, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has expressed its willingness to consider human rights dialogues with international interlocutors, including the EU. This country has also stated its willingness to consider technical cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and a country visit by the Special Rapporteur. In its revised version of L.28, the cosponsors have added language to welcome these initial signals which – if pursued and combined with a genuine willingness for change – could take the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in a direction towards real improvements on the ground. However, such signals cannot compensate for, replace or be traded against the need for accountability for the widespread, gross and systematic human rights violations which have and continue to be perpetrated in the country, some of which may amount to crimes against humanity.

Madame Chair,

We express our serious regret that the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has continuously refused to cooperate with the special procedures of the UN. In particular, the authorities never allowed the Commission of Inquiry to visit the country, nor replied to its various requests for information. The Special Rapporteur has also never been allowed to visit the country. Therefore, we strongly urge the Government of the DPRK to follow up on the early talks with the Special Rapporteur on a visit with a view to granting full, free and unimpeded access to the country.

Madame Chair,

The horrifying testimonies of human rights violations in this county are not fabricated and cannot leave us indifferent. The international community cannot ignore the suffering of the ordinary people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it must take action.

This draft reflects the serious concerns of the 62 cosponsors to this resolution about the widespread, gross and systematic violations of human rights perpetrated against the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. We hope that other delegations share these concerns and would like to respectfully ask all delegations to support L. 28/Rev.1 in its tabled form.

Thank you, Madame Chair.