Korean Peninsula Crisis

Oral intervention to be given by the Next Century Foundation at the 37th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Item 4 ID on 12th March 2018, the special report on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea:

Mr President, my name is Be Sun Lee from the Next Century Foundation.

The Next Century Foundation recognizes that despite the positive signal given by the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeong-Chang, the underlying antagonism on the Korean peninsula persists. The Next Century Foundation feels that the United Nation has not been involved as actively or thoughtfully as it could have been on the issue.

North Korea has long been known for human rights violations. On 13 February 2017 Kim Jong-Nam was assassinated. On 19 June 2017 Otto Warmbier died at the age of 22 after 17 months of imprisonment with hard labour in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Furthermore in 2017 alone, 23 missiles were fired, threating to undermine international security and infringing the universal fundamental human right to freedom from fear.

Meanwhile, in response to the Korean crisis, the UN Security Council has adopted economic sanctions against North Korea. However, it was the welfare of the population that was negatively affected by the UN’s action, whilst the authoritarian elite in North Korea was smuggling resources from abroad. On 24th March 2017, the UN Human Rights Council adopted an “experts in legal accountability” process to assess cases and develop plans for the eventual prosecution of North Korean leaders responsible for crimes against humanity. But Mr President what practical effect have these measures had? The Next Century Foundation believes the United Nations has merely been provoking outrage in North Korea and made prospects for democracy even weaker by making the DPRK believe they are not part of our international community.

As a citizen of the Republic of Korea, I do not wish to see harm come to South Korea nor indeed to North Korea. Nearly 3,800 of the people who’ve been waiting to reunite with their relatives in North Korea died last year; however almost 60,000 South Koreans are still waiting desperately to see their separated families. We therefore appeal to the UN and the international community to collaborate together, rather than using this crisis to advance selfish political or economic interest, and to devise a thoughtful resolution of the problems facing the Korean peninsula. Only then can we genuinely invite North Korean leaders to denuclearise, protect human security, and promote human rights for all.

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