"The regime in Pyongyang does everything in its power to hide its atrocities from the outside world, but over and over again it has failed." The US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield denounced the serious state of human rights in North Korea during an informal meeting of the UN Security Council organized by the Albanian and US missions to the United Nations (with co-sponsors Japan and South Korea) to shed light on Pyongyang's abuses and violations and their intrinsic link with international peace and security.
"Right now North Korea has more than 80,000 people in prison camps where political detainees are subjected to torture, starvation, forced labor, arbitrary or summary executions, and gender-based violence, including forced abortions," he added, noting that "the regime has also carried out acts of transnational repression, including intimidation, surveillance, forced returns and murders".
Thomas-Greenfield explained that Pyongyang's weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs are inextricably linked to the regime's human rights violations: "The search for weapons of mass destruction always prevails over the human rights and humanitarian needs of its people, Kim Jong-un preferred ammunition to food, missiles to mankind."
Then he attacked China that blocked the public broadcast of the meeting on UN TV channels: "A vain attempt", he said, "since this meeting (then aired on unofficial channels such as Facebook) will be public and visible to the world. We will continue to denounce North Korea's human rights violations and threats to international peace."
The decision to blackout the TV broadcast is within the possibilities of a member of the Council, and China is one of the five permanent members.
Italy requests access to the country of personnel and international humanitarian agencies
The informal meeting of the UN Security Council was attended by the Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN Palace Gianluca Greco for Italy.
"Italy, in light of the importance it attaches to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, considers that the serious situation of widespread and systematic violation of human rights in North Korea is a matter of deep concern," he said and called on Pyongyang to "grant access to international humanitarian personnel and agencies." to conduct independent needs assessments, implement humanitarian programmes consistent with international standards and humanitarian principles, and provide assistance to people in the most vulnerable situations."
North Korea's nuclear threat
The accusations against the UN by China and Russia
Xing Jisheng, an adviser to the UN mission, criticized the United States for discussing human rights in the Security Council, whose mandate is to ensure international peace and security, saying it is "in no way constructive." Instead of easing tension, he said, "it could rather escalate the conflict, and so it's an irresponsible move."
Accusations also relaunched by Stepan Kuzmenkov, a Russian adviser who said that there were no reasons to convene the meeting "which has a clear anti-North Korean tendency" and pointed to the United States, guilty in his opinion of using human rights "to settle accounts with governments not to their liking".
In a July 2022 report on human rights in North Korea, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed significant concerns, including "the widespread and systematic use of torture," the lack of meaningful public participation in the political process, severe sanctions for distributing foreign media content, and "the absolute denial of freedom to express opinions or criticism of the government." as well as the "right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion".
Meanwhile, the October 2022 report by UN Special Rapporteur Elizabeth Salmón drew attention to hundreds of unsolved cases of international abductions and enforced disappearances by the Pyongyang government outside its territory.
Joint US-South Korea military exercises
Kim Jong-un's threats
North Korea has threatened to use its nuclear arsenal "preemptively" in the event of a "dangerously widening conflict." Pyongyang, in an article in the Rodong Sinmun, clarified that North Korean atomic weapons "do not exist just for publicity" after again criticizing the joint exercises between the United States and South Korea underway these days.
Taking a stand is nothing new. Already in April last year, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, in a speech at a military parade, said that, in defense of "fundamental interests", a preventive use of nuclear weapons could also be ordered.
Pyongyang said some 800,000 of its citizens volunteered to join or rejoin the nation's military to fight against the United States on Friday alone, after the previous day fired a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in response to ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
After the new test, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed his willingness to "instill fear in enemies" to deter war and reliably guarantee the peaceful life of the people that passes through the irreversible constitution of the deterrent with respect to nuclear war.
New recruits: 800,000 citizens volunteered