North Korea Comes Under Criticism at The Human Rights Council

In Geneva this afternoon the Human Rights Council adopted a sharply worded resolution condemning human rights abuses in North Korea.  The resolution passed 28 to 5, with 13 abstentions.  China and Russia were among the five, but the vote showed that the Hermit Kingdom is becoming increasingly isolated on the international stage. Compared to previous years, Brazil and Djibouti switched from abstaining to voting with the majority, and Nigeria switched from a “no” vote to abstaining.

As far as these things go, the resolution is strongly worded. It condemns torture and “the grave, widespread and systematic human rights abuses in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in particular the use of torture and labor camps against political prisoners and repatriated citizens of DPRK.”  The resolution also extends the mandate of the special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, the findings of which helped form the basis of today’s resolution. 

Needless to say, this is a good example of how the Human Rights Council is supposed to work.  To be sure, the Council is not without its flaws. But this resolution goes to show that the UNHRC is much more than the one-dimensional body that some of its critics would have you believe.