United Nations and North Korean Human Rights: Just an Opinion Piece

I receive several email alerts everyday on everything North Korea. Now, that’s a lot of emails to go through but what caught my eye today was the United Nation’s resolution on North Korean human rights. It’s a great thing and definitely necessary but it also got me thinking about some other things. But before I get into that, let me give you some details on the resolution.

The human rights committee of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that is supposed to pressure North Korea into correcting its human rights violations against its own people yesterday (November 21, 2011). Now, we all know about North Korea’s human rights violations: the torture, the political prison camps, the restraint against freedom of religion, the inability to travel freely, the malnutrition, the constant fear of being watched, and the list continues.

The resolution has been adopted by the U.N. for the seventh year in a row since 2005. It was passed with a total of 103 members in favor, 16 against, and 55 abstentions. What’s interesting about these numbers is that the members in favor has increased by nine since last year. Also, for the first time, the resolution addresses the problem of North Korea’s political prison camps and also the halted inter-Korean reunions of separated families. It will be officially voted on next month at the U.N. General Assembly’s plenary session.

The U.N. resolution for North Korean human rights has been cosponsored by South Korea since 2008 and 51 other countries.

Now that you know the details, let’s talk about what this could mean for North Korea.

Anyone who is even the slightest bit interested in North Korean affairs cannot ignore the current human rights situation of this rogue country. The issue is both humanitarian and political. But either way you look at it, the severity of this problem remains the same. I mentioned my daily news alerts for North Korea earlier and not a day goes by that I don’t receive at least one email that has something to do with North Korean human rights. I am reminded everyday about what is happening behind the North’s closed doors and it makes me think about everything that should be done about it. Now, I am definitely not saying that I have the answer. But I do have some thoughts.

The United Nations resolution to pressure North Korea into correcting its human rights violations against its own people is a good thing and I support it wholeheartedly. Other independent countries have also adopted laws regarding North Korean human rights such as the United States, Japan, and England. It’s great that super powers like these are setting an example that the rest of the world should follow. And South Korea has been trying to do just that.

South Korea has been trying to adopt its own North Korea Human Rights Act since 2005, again in 2008, and yet again in 2011 but has been unsuccessful in doing so thus far. If you didn’t know this already, you’re probably wondering why South Korea, the one country that should be in the lead for such things, has not yet implemented a law that other third party countries have long begun to do. But you have to think about the factors also.

North Korea is a sensitive issue in South Korea. President Lee Myung Bak has abandoned the Sunshine Policy of his predecessors and has instead taken a firm stance regarding North Korea. But even still, for South Korea to adopt a law that directly criticizes the North of human rights violations could mean a further strain for the two county’s relationship, and things aren’t the best right now as it is. I can understand why many South Korean politicians are opposing the passage of a North Korea Human Rights Act. However, as the South Korean government moves forward with its plans for preparation of unification I do hope that it continues to think about the North Korean people. I hope that the politicians put aside their politics and only think about what is being done to the civilians living behind the closed doors of North Korea. Would they be able to ignore it if they really did this?

Or maybe I’m delusional. But a person can still dream, right?

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One thought on “United Nations and North Korean Human Rights: Just an Opinion Piece

  1. Pingback: North Korean Human Rights Bill: What Happened? | MOU OneKorea

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