North Korea detente: UN expert urges opening for human rights
GENEVA (8 March 2018) – Welcoming rapprochement on the Korean peninsula, including possible discussions about
denuclearisation, the UN Special Rapporteur, Tomás Ojea Quintana, called on the DPRK Government to take the opportunity
to open up to UN human rights mechanisms.
“In looking back at the unprecedented tensions that marked the past year, the two Koreas must be commended for the
efforts that led to the remarkable Olympic Truce that brought the two countries together in such a short period,” he
“I had always stressed that engagement with North Korea should never be underestimated, and also that human rights
remain a priority, and must not be held hostage to the security situation. In this regard, I urge the DPRK to
consolidate the rapprochement with a parallel opening to UN human rights monitoring.”
Ojea Quintana also noted that family reunion events, which have not taken place since October 2015, must resume without
delay, given the average age of the 59,000 individuals registered in South Korea for reunion with their loved ones in
the North is 81.
“One year ago”, the expert noted, “I urged the Human Rights Council to make sure that human rights in North Korea
remains a top priority despite the rising tensions. Today, I am calling upon them to keep human rights their priority
while taking advantage of the critical openings that the current political situation offers.”
In a report
* to the Human Rights Council, Ojea Quintana highlighted a continuing pattern of violations, including restrictions on
freedoms of expression, movement and access to information, as well as dire access to basic needs, including food
rations. His findings on ill-treatment in detention, including of women in pre-trial detention, are also included, as
well as the continuing pattern of forced repatriation of North Korean escapees, including children, from China.
“The international community has a responsibility to ensure that these critical issues remain on the agenda – the
momentum is there, and it must be seized for meaningful human rights dialogue that can translate into concrete results,
whether through mainstreaming of human rights concerns in further interactions or technical cooperation,” the Special
“My key message to the DPRK authorities remains the same and consistent: we have a common agenda, which is the
advancement and promotion of the well-being of their people,” said the Special Rapporteur, whose mandate on the
situation of human rights in the DPRK is rejected by the North Korean authorities.
Recalling that the Government has taken some important steps in the past year to re-engage UN human rights mechanisms,
the expert added: “I urge the Government of the DPRK to continue on this path by taking a crucial step: open its
frontiers to relevant UN human rights mechanisms.”
The Special Rapporteur will report to the Human Rights Council on his findings on 12 March (AM). A press conference will
be held at 11:30am onMonday 12 March, in press room 3, Palais des Nations.
(*) Check the advance edited report
by the Special Rapporteur (A/HRC/ 37/69)