Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (A/HRC/37/69) (Advance Edited Version)
Human Rights Council
26 February – 23 March 2018
Agenda item 4
Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention
1. In the present report, submitted to the Human Rights Council pursuant to Council resolution 34/24, the Special Rapporteur reflects on three key developments since his previous report to the Council. First, he considers the impact of recent turns in the political and security environment on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Second, he evaluates aspects of the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on the basis of information he received from different sources, including persons who left the country in 2016 and in 2017. Lastly, he assesses the results of engagement efforts made by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with the United Nations in 2017, particularly the ways in which they could serve to reduce the State’s isolation from the international community and to ensure accountability for human rights violations. The Special Rapporteur concludes the report with recommendations that he hopes will be duly considered and implemented by the parties concerned.
2. The present report should be considered in conjunction with the report most recently submitted by the mandate holder to the General Assembly (A/72/394), in which he called upon the international community to adopt a practical approach to the promotion of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea using every opening available. In this regard, the Special Rapporteur considers the establishment of communication channels with the United Nations Secretariat a vital step forward to help to remedy the situation. Although the resistance of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the mandate continues to be a serious impediment for the Special Rapporteur in his access to the authorities and to the field, the State`s recent engagement with other United Nations human rights mechanisms could lead to encouraging opportunities for further cooperation.
3. The Special Rapporteur recognizes the urgency of addressing reported crimes against humanity in the Democratic People`s Republic of Korea, and the challenges involved in pursuing criminal accountability at both the national and international levels. Efforts in this field should be strengthened. At the same time, there is a need to instil a culture of accountability in the State’s institutions and to create opportunities for a meaningful engagement with the international community on this issue. The assessment of the situation of human rights made by the Special Rapporteur therefore takes into account the need to set the dialogue agenda with the Government on specific human rights challenges, and to identify those individuals or institutions with the responsibility to protect victims and the power to redress the situation. A window of opportunity may currently exist to take this discussion forward, in particular considering the actions taken by a number of international actors, including Governments and members of civil society, and the United Nations system to reach out to the authorities.