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U.N. Security Council to take up N.K. human rights issue

The U.N. Security Council is expected to take up North Korea's human rights problem as early as later this month as 10 council members signed a letter calling for adding the issue to its agenda, the U.S. human rights envoy said Friday.

Australia, the United States and South Korea were among the countries that signed the letter to the council's president earlier in the day, one more than the nine countries needed to put an issue on the 15-member council's agenda, Amb. Robert King said during a Woodrow Wilson Center forum.

The council's discussion of the issue is assured as no veto is allowed in the process, he said.

"We'll see that the North Korea human rights issue is put on the agenda of the Security Council," he said. "There may be a discussion at the Security Council later this month. But certainly if it does not happen later this month, it will happen next year."

The move came after the Third Committee of the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a strongly worded resolution that calls for referring the communist nation to the International Criminal Court for human rights violations.

King said a final vote on the resolution is set for Dec. 18.

The council's discussion of the North's human rights problem would have a symbolic meaning, though chances of Pyongyang's actual referral to the ICC are slim because China and Russia, two of the five veto-holding permanent members, are expected to reject a referral.

This year has been a "remarkable" year when it comes to the North Korean human rights issues, King said, as the U.N. Commission of Inquiry released a landmark report on the issue and the U.N. General Assembly resolution is on course for adoption after passing through the committee.

North Korea had struggled to remove the references to the ICC referral from the resolution. Pyongyang offered to invite the special U.N. human rights investigator to visit the country, and North Korean diplomats in New York also stepped up unusual public relations activities. (Yonhap)


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