UNITED NATIONS, United States: UN member states on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) condemned widespread human rights violations in North Korea and expressed concerns that funds needed to ease the dire humanitarian crisis are spent on Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programs.
A resolution drafted by Japan and the European Union was adopted by a consensus vote in the General Assembly’s committee on humanitarian affairs.
Following the vote, diplomats from China, Pyongyang’s ally, Russia, Syria, Iran and Cuba took the floor to state they were disassociating themselves from the outcome.
The full General Assembly is expected to vote on the measure next month.
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests this year and test-fired a series of missiles, even as 18 million North Koreans out of a total population of 25 million are facing food shortages, Japan’s ambassador said.
“The authorities of the DPRK [North Korea], without regard to the plight of their own citizens, divert their limited resources to develop weapons of mass destruction,” said Ambassador Koro Bessho.
“Such institutional decision itself is a human rights violation,” he told the committee.
North Korean counsellor Ri Song Chol responded: “Japan should mind its own business.”
Pyongyang “categorically rejects” the resolution, said the North Korean diplomat, describing it as one-sided and an “extreme manifestation of politicization.”
The resolution for the third year encourages the Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court for war crimes investigation.
Such a step appears unlikely, however, with China widely expected to use its veto to block such a measure.
The vote came as the United States and China were locked in negotiations on a new Security Council draft resolution to tighten sanctions on North Korea following Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests.
The new sanctions are expected to target North Korean exports of coal to China among other measures, UN diplomats said.
The UN’s new rights expert on North Korea, Argentine Tomas Quintana, is to travel to South Korea and Japan this week, his first visit to the region.