Archive for the ‘North Korea’ Category

Human Rights Council opens today

June 19, 2006

Today, the new Human Rights Council begins operation in Geneva. The new HRC has been held up as an example of reform. However, Human Rights Watch sent a warning on Friday demanding "No Business as Usual".

The new HRC has been held up as an example of reform, and, indeed, there have been a number of important improvements.

There have already been some changes. South Korean candidate Ban Ki-moon has said that North Korea needs to begin to address its human rights record. As the article points out:

The remarks by Ban, who is eyeing the top UN post, represent a departure for South Korea by singling out the North without lumping it with other offenders like Burma. South Korea has been criticized for its passivity over human rights abuses in the Stalinist country on the international stage.

"The government has made progress in its position on the issue by taking issue with North Korea’s human rights record at a global event,” a government official said. South Korea has been absent or abstained since 2003 whenever the UN adopted resolutions on North Korea’s human rights violations.

As previous posts have pointed out (here, here, and here), we are concerned about North Korea and Human rights. If a resolution comes up on Uzbekistan or Egypt, who have also endorsed Ban Ki-moon, will he support challenging their records?

Sri Lanka, India, and South Korea are on the Council. It will be interesting to see how these countries vote over the next several months.

Welcome to Korean and Global Voices readers

April 14, 2006

Global Voices and Korea Liberator have now linked to us. We are glad that there is a critical interest in Ban Ki-moon's UNSG campaign in Korea.

All of our posts on Ban Ki-moon can be read here.

We would like to point out that there has been some NGO opposition to the UNSG election process. They have formed a coalition of NGOs to advocate for a more transparent process. We hope that our work here contributes to that objective.

European Parliament on North Korean Human Rights

April 7, 2006

Yesterday in Brussels, the European Parliament held a a public hearing on North Korea and Human Rights. This debate occurs while Ban Ki-moon, the South Korean candidate for UN Secretary General is in Europe visiting UN Security Council members. The South Korean paper JoongAng Daily reports that this was scheduled in February.

We'll let some quotes from the article speak for themselves:

Szent-Ivany, vice chairman of the Korean peninsula affairs committee of the European Parliament, recalled, "I was engaged in dissident activities against the Hungarian communist regime. From that experience, I have no choice but to pay attention to the North Korean human rights issue."

The article also points out that North Korea rejects the human rights movements as outside intervention:

North Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs insists, "human rights are a national right," and rejects outside pressure as "interference in their internal affairs."

It appears that a number of South Korean citizens made some atmospherics surrounding the hearing. They protested it:

Some puzzled members of the European Parliament who attended the hearing asked, "Why do South Koreans oppose the hearing, rather than criticizing North Koreans for committing human rights violations?" Professor Yoo Sae Hee, who attended the hearing as a South Korean representative said, "I feel ashamed as a South Korean. Those who are demonstrating against the hearing are not representatives of South Korea."

And the article refers to a South Korean newspaper's criticism of Ban Ki-moon, South Korea's Foreign Minister:

The South Korean paper JoongAng Daily sarcastically criticized the Seoul government's policy toward North Korea in an editorial dated February 19 and entitled, "The nation of the U.N. Secretary General candidate who declines to take up the issue of North Korean human rights." The paper was referring to South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon, who is campaigning for the U.N. post. According to the editorial, the Seoul government's stance on North Korean human rights issues is not well received in Europe.

We thought that this was pretty strong language, so we looked up the editorial, which was titled, "Shameful Stance on Rights." It said, among other things:

With the country presenting a candidate for the next United Nations secretary general, the time has come to change its position.