South Korea to Vote for NK Human Rights Resolution
After years of abstaining for fear of upsetting the ‘Dear Leader’ up North, the South Korean government will vote in support of a UN resolution on North Korean human rights. The resolution will grant UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea Vitit Muntarbhorn another year-long mandate to investigate NK human rights abuses and calls on North Korea to respect human rights. (see this DailyNK interview with Muntarbhorn, a Thai national, from January of this year).
According to Chosun Ilbo’s analysis:
The decision confirms expectations that the new government in Seoul is taking a harder line with the North. A government official, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity, said, “Previous administrations treated the human rights issue of North Korea from a nationalist standpoint. But the new government’s basic policy is to regard human rights as a universal value. The government will show the first example of concrete action in the upcoming UNHRC vote.”
At the same time, Chosun Ilbo released an editorial calling on the National Human Rights Commission of South Korea to take a tougher stand on North Korean human rights violations, noting,
“Article Three of South Korea’s Constitution stipulates North Korea as being part of the territory of the South. That means North Koreans are entitled to the same rights as South Koreans. This is why we accept North Korean defectors. The NHRC needs to know about the inhumane pain suffered by North Koreans and must investigate the difficulties faced by North Korean refugees in China and Southeast Asia. The NHRC must publicize the reality facing North Koreans. If we don’t, then we will have nothing to say to our North Korean brethren after reunification, if they ask us what we had done to help them during such hard times.”