Unfortunately, human rights violations in the DPRK are not new. Ten years after the Commission of Inquiry was established, there are no indications of progress. Last year, the former High-Commissioner stated that human rights violations in the DPRK might amount to crimes against humanity. And in his latest report, the Secretary General finds that the DPRK has further increased the repression of its people in the context of Covid-19.
Germany is convinced that all restrictions in the context of the pandemic must be necessary, proportionate, non-discriminatory, time-bound, and strictly in line with international law. Under no circumstances must they be misused as a tool to advance a repressive agenda, for example by introducing shoot-to-kill-orders.
The Secretary-General’s latest report finds evidence for the widespread and systematic use of torture and for the violation of the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, among others. The death penalty is being imposed for the distribution or even the mere viewing of drawings or photos from so-called hostile nations. The right of citizens to leave and to return to their home country is severely restricted.
According to estimates of the FAO and the World Food Programme, more than 10 million North Koreans, more than 40 percent of the population, are food-insecure. And the DPRK has repeatedly declined offers of vaccination support by the international community, including through the COVAX facility.
I started by saying that human rights violations in the DPRK are not new. What is also not new is the DPRK’s reaction to these allegations, calling human rights a matter of internal affairs and this meeting an interference with its national sovereignty.
Germany reiterates its long-standing position that human rights are universal, that it is our joint responsibility to make sure they are respected everywhere, and that violations do not go unpunished.
We reiterate our call on the DPRK to immediately end all human rights violations, to engage with the international community, including the OHCHR and the special rapporteur, and to allow UN staff back into the country. As long as gross and systematic human rights violations persist, we find it imperative for the Security Council to ensure international awareness and to keep this topic on the agenda.
While the human rights and humanitarian situation in the DPRK remains one of the worst in the world, the DPRK spends a disproportionately high amount of its state budget – more than one quarter of its GDP by some accounts – on its military. Pyongyang’s determination to pursue weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs comes – first and foremost – at the expense of its own people. We deplore this choice and call on member states to take all necessary steps to implement the sanctions introduced in nine consecutive, unanimously adopted Security Council resolutions.
Finally, we call on the DPRK to stop the unlawful and dangerous testing of ballistic missiles – which it escalated to record heights last year – and to refrain from efforts to develop or to expand its nuclear capabilities. Instead, we urge the leadership to stop its increasingly aggressive military rhetoric and to return to the negotiation table.