Highlighting human rights in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Michael Kirby holding up a copy of the report
Michael Kirby, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea, holds a copy of his report during a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, February 2014 (Credit: UN.org)

Australia played a leadership role in bringing to the Council’s attention the horrific mass human rights violations by the State of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

In March 2014, a UN Commission of Inquiry chaired by Australia’s Justice The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG released a report which found the ‘gravity, scale and nature of the human rights violations committed by the DPRK State distinguishes it as one that has no parallel in the contemporary world’. It found that many of those violations amount to crimes against humanity and recommended that the DPRK be referred to the International Criminal Court.

At our encouragement, the Council voted in December 2014 to place the DPRK’s widespread human rights violations on its agenda for the first time. The action recognised that the DPRK’s violations constitute a threat to international peace and security and are a matter for continuing Council attention and action. Until this point, the Council’s examination of the DPRK focused on its nuclear program.

This step allowed the Council to consider the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry’s report. It also sent an important message to the Government of the DPRK that the international community will continue to press for fundamental change and accountability for the crimes being committed against its people.

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Last Updated: 18 March 2015