Open Letter to President Moon Jae-In urging co-sponsorship of the resolution on North Korea’s Human Rights situation at the 49th UN Human Rights Council
CC. Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, Foreign Affairs Minister Chung Eui-yong, Unification Minister Lee In-young
Dear President Moon Jae-in,
We are writing on behalf of 30 non-governmental organizations and coalitions, and five individuals from 6 different countries to urge your government to engage fully with the international community, and act in response to the dire human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) by resuming South Korea’s co-sponsorship of the annual resolution on the matter at the 49th UN Human Rights Council.
The gravity of the human rights situation in North Korea is well recognized. The UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea investigated the ongoing systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations in North Korea and found that the DPRK government has committed crimes against humanity pursuant to the state policies, which include “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.” Following the COI’s findings, the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly regularly adopted resolutions strongly condemning North Korea’s human rights violations and calling for strengthening accountability efforts and mechanisms.
South Korea played an integral role in these efforts to improve human rights in North Korea. Every year from 2008 to 2018, the South Korean government co-sponsored resolutions on the DPRK in the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council that called for the promotion and protection of human rights in North Korea.
However, since 2019, the South Korean government has declined to co-sponsor resolutions on North Korean human rights issues at the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly. Your government claimed it would continue efforts to promote human rights in North Korea through peace and prosperity, considering the circumstances in the Korean peninsula, but very few concrete results were achieved under that policy.
The South Korean government’s promotion of dialogue and cooperation with North Korea, which excluded human rights dialogue, did not secure a durable peace in the Korean peninsula and led to silence on North Korea’s horrific rights violations. We believe that it is crucial that South Korea changes course, and that your government sends a clear message to North Korea to end human rights violations and hold accountable those responsible for grave abuses.
We note that the UN Human Rights Council, in its resolution 46/17 of March 23, 2021, and the UN General Assembly, in its resolution 76/177 of December 16, 2021, specifically expressed concern at the allegations of continued human rights violations against South Korean unrepatriated prisoners of war and their descendants, in addition to the previous calls to North Korea to resolve all issues relating to all abductees, in particular the realization of the immediate return of all South Korean abductees. These are issues which should be of paramount concern to your government.
Before becoming president, you worked tirelessly as a human rights lawyer in the struggle for democracy in South Korea. We now ask you, nearing the end of your five-year presidency, to take a principled stance on North Korea’s grave human rights violations with the co-sponsorship of the Human Rights Council’s resolution this year as one of your final official acts in office.
Thank you for your consideration, and we would be pleased to discuss these matters further with your staff.
|1969 KAL Abductees’ Families Association||South Korea|
|Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)||UK|
|Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR)||South Korea|
|Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK)||USA|
|Daily NK||South Korea|
|Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB)||South Korea|
|FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights|
|Human Asia||South Korea|
|Human Rights Foundation (HRF)||USA|
|Human Rights Watch (HRW)||USA|
|Institute for Transitional Justice and Integration (ITJI)||South Korea|
|International Child Rights Center (InCRC)||South Korea|
|International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK)|
|Justice For North Korea||South Korea|
|Korean War POW Family Association||South Korea|
|Lawyers for human rights and unification of Korea||South Korea|
|Liberty in North Korea (LiNK)||USA|
|Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (NKnet)||South Korea|
|North Korea Strategy Center||South Korea|
|People for Successful Corean Reunification (PSCORE)||South Korea|
|Rohingya Human Rights Network||Canada|
|Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG)||South Korea|
|Unification Academy||South Korea|
|Unification Media Group||South Korea|
|Sonja Biserko||Former Commission of Inquiry (COI) member on the situation of human rights in the DPRK & current chair at the Helsinki Human Rights Committee in Serbia|
|Timothy Cho||Inquiry Clerk to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea|
|Marzuki Darusman||Former UN Special Rapporteur/COI member on the situation of human rights in the DPRK|
|Lee Yang-Hee||Former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar / Former Chairperson of UN Committee on the Rights of the Child|
|Lord Alton of Liverpool||Co-chair All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea|