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(3rd LD) U.N. panel adopts resolution condemning N.K. human rights abuses

All Headlines 13:48 November 15, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS Seoul foreign ministry's comment in 3rd to last para; CHANGE dateline)

NEW YORK/SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- A United Nations committee on Thursday adopted a resolution calling for accountability for gross human rights violations in North Korea.

The U.N. Third Committee, which oversees humanitarian issues, passed the document by consensus without a vote for the 15th consecutive year

It is expected to pass the U.N. General Assembly next month.

This screenshot of U.N. Web TV shows North Korean Ambassador to the U.N. Kim Song speaking at a meeting of the U.N. Third Committee in New York on Nov. 14, 2019. (Yonhap)

The Assembly "condemns the long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights in and by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, including those that may amount to crimes against humanity," according to the text drafted by European Union member states.

It also "encourages" the U.N. Security Council to "take appropriate action to ensure accountability," including by considering referring the North Korean situation to the International Criminal Court and by considering further sanctions to target "those who appear to be most responsible for human rights violations," an apparent reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

This year's resolution largely contains the same language as those of previous years. Action by the U.N. Security Council has been recommended since 2014.

North Korea bristles at accusations of human rights violations, viewing them as a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.

Speaking to the committee, North Korean Ambassador to the U.N. Kim Song slammed the resolution as having nothing to do with the true protection of human rights and claimed the alleged abuses were fabricated by North Koreans who had fled the regime after committing crimes.

He expressed "deep concern" at what he described as an attempt by the EU and other "hostile forces" to promote confrontation on the U.N. stage, and singled out Japan, which contributed to the resolution, for having committed crimes against humanity during its 1910-45 occupation of the Korean Peninsula.

Japan, he said, has still not resolved the issue of 1.4 million forced laborers and 200,000 sex slaves mobilized for Japanese troops.

In a departure from previous years, South Korea did not co-propose the resolution, citing the "current political situation on the Korean Peninsula."

"It is based on comprehensive contemplation on the current circumstances regarding the peace process on the Korean Peninsula, and the fact that all efforts should be made to focus on making substantive progress at an early date for the hard-won dialogue process," Seoul's foreign ministry said Friday.

The South Korean mission to the U.N. said in a press release that Seoul's concern about North Korea's human rights situation and its efforts to improve the human rights conditions of the North Korean people remain unchanged.

"The government will continue to work to promote North Korea's human rights through peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula," it said.

hague@yna.co.kr
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