Original HRC document

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Document Type: Final Resolution

Date: 2019 Apr

Session: 40th Regular Session (2019 Feb)

Agenda Item: Item4: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention

GE.19-05669(E)



Human Rights Council Fortieth session

25 February–22 March 2019

Agenda item 4

Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 22 March 2019

40/20. Situation of human rights in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea

The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human

Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and other human rights instruments,

Recalling all previous resolutions adopted by the Commission on Human Rights, the

Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on the situation of human rights in the

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including Council resolution 37/28 of 23 March

2018 and Assembly resolution 73/180 of 17 December 2018, and urging the

implementation of those resolutions,

Bearing in mind paragraph 3 of General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March

2006,

Recalling its resolutions 5/1, on institution-building of the Human Rights Council,

and 5/2, on the Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the Council, of

18 June 2007, and stressing that the mandate holder shall discharge his or her duties in

accordance with those resolutions and the annexes thereto,

Stressing the importance of following up on the recommendations contained in the

report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic

of Korea, 1 which was welcomed by both the Human Rights Council and the General

Assembly, and transmitted to the relevant bodies of the United Nations, including the

Security Council,

Deeply concerned at the systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations in

the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that, in many instances, constitute crimes

against humanity, and at the impunity of perpetrators, as described in the report of the

commission of inquiry,

Recalling the responsibility of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to protect

its population from crimes against humanity, and noting that the General Assembly in its

resolution 73/180 recalled that the commission of inquiry had urged the leadership of the

1 A/HRC/25/63.

United Nations A/HRC/RES/40/20

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to prevent and suppress crimes against humanity

and to ensure that perpetrators were prosecuted and brought to justice,

Concerned that the precarious humanitarian situation in the country is exacerbated

by the restrictions imposed by the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of

Korea on the free and unimpeded access for humanitarian agencies to all populations in

need,

Acknowledging General Assembly resolution 73/180, in which the Assembly noted

with concern the findings of the United Nations that over 10 million people in the

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were estimated to be undernourished and that most

children under 24 months of age and 50 per cent of pregnant and breastfeeding women had

insufficient dietary diversity, leading to micronutrient deficiencies and an unacceptably

high prevalence of chronic and acute malnutrition, condemning the Democratic People’s

Republic of Korea for its national policies that, among others, divert its resources into

pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles over the welfare of its people and their

access to food, and emphasizing the necessity for the Democratic People’s Republic of

Korea to respect and ensure the welfare and inherent dignity of the people in the country, as

referred to by the Security Council in its resolutions 2321 (2016) of 30 November 2016,

2371 (2017) of 5 August 2017, 2375 (2017) of 11 September 2017 and 2397 (2017) of 22

December 2017,

Reaffirming that it is the responsibility of the Government of the Democratic

People’s Republic of Korea to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and

fundamental freedoms of its entire population, including by ensuring equal access to

adequate food, as well as, among others, freedom of religion or belief, freedom of

expression and freedom of association and assembly,

Recognizing that particular risk factors affect women, children, persons with

disabilities and the elderly, and the need to ensure the full enjoyment of all their human

rights and fundamental freedoms by them against neglect, abuse, exploitation and violence,

and taking note in this regard of the concluding observations of the Committee on the

Elimination of Discrimination against Women on the combined second to fourth periodic

reports of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea2 and the concluding observations of

the Committee on the Rights of the Child on the fifth periodic report of the Democratic

People’s Republic of Korea,3

Noting with appreciation the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons

with disabilities to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, encouraging the

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to implement all of the recommendations contained

in the report of the Special Rapporteur on her visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of

Korea, submitted to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-seventh session,4 and noting

with appreciation also the submission of the initial report of the Democratic People’s

Republic of Korea on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with

Disabilities in December 2018,

Acknowledging the participation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in

the second cycle of the universal periodic review, noting the acceptance by the Government

of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea of 113 out of the 268 recommendations

contained in the outcome of the review and its stated commitment to implement them and

to look into the possibility of implementing a further 58 recommendations, and

emphasizing the importance of the implementation of the recommendations in order to

address the grave human rights violations in the country,

Recognizing the important work of the treaty bodies in monitoring the

implementation of international human rights obligations, and emphasizing the need for the

2 CEDAW/C/PRK/CO/2-4.

3 CRC/C/PRK/CO/5.

4 A/HRC/37/56/Add.1.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with its human rights obligations and to

ensure regular and timely reporting to the treaty bodies,

Noting the urgency and importance of the issue of international abductions and of

the immediate return of all abductees, expressing grave concern at the lack of positive

action by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since the investigations on all the

Japanese nationals commenced on the basis of the government-level consultations held

between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Japan in May 2014, and expecting

the resolution of all issues related to the Japanese nationals, in particular the return of all

abductees, to be achieved at the earliest possible date,

Welcoming the ongoing diplomatic efforts, and noting the importance of dialogue,

including inter-Korean dialogue, and engagements for the improvement of the human rights

and humanitarian situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,

Noting the urgency and importance of the issue of separated families, and in this

regard welcoming the resumption of reunions of separated families across the border in

August 2018 and the commitments made on this issue at the inter-Korean summit held on

19 September 2018 to strengthen humanitarian cooperation to fundamentally resolve the

issue of separated families,

Reaffirming the importance of States engaging fully and constructively with the

Human Rights Council, including with the universal periodic review process and other

mechanisms of the Council, for the improvement of their situation of human rights,

1. Condemns in the strongest terms the long-standing and ongoing systematic,

widespread and gross human rights violations and other human rights abuses committed in

and by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and expresses its grave concern at the

detailed findings made by the commission of inquiry in its report, including:

(a) The denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and of

the rights to freedom of opinion, expression and association, both online and offline, which

is enforced through an absolute monopoly on information and total control over organized

social life, and arbitrary and unlawful State surveillance that permeates the private lives of

all citizens;

(b) Discrimination based on the songbun system, which classifies people on the

basis of State-assigned social class and birth, and also includes consideration of political

opinions and religion, discrimination against women, including unequal access to

employment, discriminatory laws and regulations, and violence against women;

(c) Violations of all aspects of the right to freedom of movement, including

forced assignment to State-designated places of residence and employment, often based on

the songbun system, and denial of the right to leave one’s own country;

(d) Systematic, widespread and grave violations of the right to food and related

aspects of the right to life, exacerbated by widespread hunger and malnutrition;

(e) Violations of the right to life and acts of extermination, murder, enslavement,

torture, imprisonment, rape and other grave forms of sexual violence and persecution on

political, religious and gender grounds in political prison camps and ordinary prisons, and

the widespread practice of collective punishment, with harsh sentences imposed on

innocent individuals;

(f) Systematic abduction, denial of repatriation and subsequent enforced

disappearance of persons, including those from other countries, on a large scale and as a

matter of State policy;

2. Urges the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to

acknowledge its crimes and human rights violations in and outside of the country, and to

take immediate steps to end all such crimes and violations through, inter alia, the

implementation of relevant recommendations in the report of the commission of inquiry

and General Assembly resolution 73/180, including, but not limited to, the following steps:

(a) Ensuring the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the

rights to freedom of opinion, expression and association, both online and offline, including

by permitting the establishment of independent newspapers and other media;

(b) Ending discrimination against citizens, including State-sponsored

discrimination based on the songbun system, and taking immediate steps to ensure gender

equality and to protect women from gender-based violence;

(c) Ensuring the right to freedom of movement, including the freedom to choose

one’s place of residence and employment;

(d) Promoting equal access to food, including through full transparency

regarding the provision of humanitarian assistance so that such assistance is genuinely

provided to vulnerable persons, including individuals in detention;

(e) Halting immediately all human rights violations relating to prison camps,

including the practice of forced labour and the use of torture and gender-based violence,

dismantling all political prison camps and releasing all political prisoners, immediately

ceasing the practice of the arbitrary and summary execution of persons in custody, and

ensuring that justice sector reforms provide protections for fair trials and due process;

(f) Resolving the issue of all persons who have been abducted or otherwise

forcibly disappeared and their descendants, in a transparent manner, including by ensuring

their immediate return;

(g) Ensuring the reunion of separated families across the border;

(h) Abolishing immediately the practice of guilt-by-association punishment;

(i) Ensuring that everyone within the territory of the Democratic People’s

Republic of Korea enjoys the right to liberty of movement and is free to leave the country,

including for the purpose of seeking asylum outside the Democratic People’s Republic of

Korea, without interference by the authorities of the Democratic People’s Republic of

Korea;

(j) Providing nationals of other countries detained in the Democratic People’s

Republic of Korea with protections, including freedom of communication with and access

to consular officers, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to

which the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a party, and any other necessary

arrangements to confirm their status and to communicate with their families;

3. Recalls General Assembly resolution 73/180, in which the Assembly

expressed its very serious concern at the violations of workers’ rights, including the right to

freedom of association and effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, the

right to strike and the prohibition of the economic exploitation of children and of any

harmful or hazardous work of children, as well as the exploitation of workers sent abroad

from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to work under conditions that reportedly

amount to forced labour;

4. Also recalls paragraph 11 of Security Council resolution 2371 (2017),

paragraph 17 of Council resolution 2375 (2017) and, in particular, paragraph 8 of Council

resolution 2397 (2017), in which the Council decided that Member States shall repatriate to

the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea all nationals of the Democratic People’s

Republic of Korea earning income in their jurisdictions and all Democratic People’s

Republic of Korea government safety oversight attachés monitoring Democratic People’s

Republic of Korea workers abroad immediately but no later than 24 months from 22

December 2017, unless the particular Member State determines that the national is a

national of that Member State or is prohibited from repatriation under applicable national

and international law, including international refugee law and international human rights

law, the Agreement between the United Nations and the United States of America

regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations or the Convention on the Privileges and

Immunities of the United Nations, and urges the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to

promote, respect and protect the human rights of workers, including workers repatriated to

the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea;

5. Further recalls paragraph 4 of General Assembly resolution 73/180, in which

the Assembly underscored its very serious concern regarding reports of torture, summary

executions, arbitrary detention, abductions and other forms of human rights violations and

abuses that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea commits against citizens of other

countries within and outside of its territory;

6. Reiterates its deep concern at the commission’s findings concerning the

situation of refugees and asylum seekers returned to the Democratic People’s Republic of

Korea, and other citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who have been

repatriated from abroad and made subject to sanctions, including internment, torture, cruel,

inhumane and degrading treatment, sexual violence, enforced disappearance or the death

penalty, and in this regard strongly urges all States to respect the fundamental principle of

non-refoulement, to treat humanely those who seek refuge and to ensure unhindered access

to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Office of the

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights with a view to protecting the human

rights of those who seek refuge, and once again urges State parties to comply with their

obligations under international human rights law and the Convention relating to the Status

of Refugees and the Protocol thereto in relation to persons from the Democratic People’s

Republic of Korea who are covered by those instruments;

7. Stresses and restates its grave concern about the commission’s finding that

the body of testimony gathered and the information received provided reasonable grounds

to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in the Democratic People’s

Republic of Korea, pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the State for

decades and by institutions under the effective control of its leadership; these crimes against

humanity entail 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;

8. Stresses that the authorities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

have failed to prosecute those responsible for crimes against humanity and other human

rights violations, and encourages all States, the United Nations system, including relevant

specialized agencies, regional intergovernmental organizations and forums, civil society

organizations, foundations and other stakeholders to cooperate with accountability efforts,

especially the efforts made by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for

Human Rights, and to ensure that these crimes do not remain unpunished;

9. Welcomes General Assembly resolution 73/180, in which the Assembly

encouraged the Security Council to continue its consideration of the relevant conclusions

and recommendations of the commission of inquiry and to take appropriate action to ensure

accountability, including through consideration of referral of the situation in the

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the International Criminal Court and

consideration of the further development of sanctions in order to target effectively those

who appear to be most responsible for human rights violations, which the commission has

said may constitute crimes against humanity;

10. Also welcomes the decision of the Security Council to hold a fourth Council

meeting on 11 December 2017, following the ones held in December 2014, December 2015

and December 2016, during which the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s

Republic of Korea was discussed in the light of the serious concerns expressed in the

present resolution, and looks forward to the continued and more active engagement of the

Council on this matter;

11. Commends the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for the activities undertaken to date and his

continued efforts in the conduct of his mandate despite the lack of access to the country;

12. Welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur;5

5 A/HRC/40/66.

13. Recalls the recommendations of the commission of inquiry and General

Assembly resolution 73/180, and reiterates the importance of maintaining the grave human

rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea high on the international

agenda, including through sustained communications, advocacy and outreach initiatives,

and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to strengthen those activities;

14. Welcomes the steps taken to strengthen the capacity of the Office of the High

Commissioner, including its field-based structure in Seoul, to allow the implementation of

relevant recommendations made by the group of independent experts on accountability in

its report aimed at strengthening current monitoring and documentation efforts, establishing

a central information and evidence repository, and having experts in legal accountability

assess all information and testimonies with a view to developing possible strategies to be

used in any future accountability process;

15. Decides to continue to strengthen, for a period of two years, the capacity of

the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, including its field-

based structure in Seoul, to allow the implementation of relevant recommendations made

by the group of independent experts on accountability in its report aimed at strengthening

current monitoring and documentation efforts, establishing a central information and

evidence repository, and having experts in legal accountability assess all information and

testimonies with a view to developing possible strategies to be used in any future

accountability process;

16. Requests the High Commissioner to provide an oral update on the progress

made in this regard to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session, and to submit a

full written report on the implementation of the recommendations to the Council at its

forty-sixth session;

17. Decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of

human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in accordance with Human

Rights Council resolution 37/28, for a period of one year;

18. Calls again upon all parties concerned, including United Nations bodies, to

consider implementation of the recommendations made by the commission of inquiry in its

report in order to address the dire situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s

Republic of Korea;

19. Encourages the continuing endeavours of the field-based structure of the

Office of the High Commissioner in Seoul, welcomes its regular reports to the Human

Rights Council, and invites the High Commissioner to provide the Council with regular

updates on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea;

20. Calls upon all States to undertake to ensure that the field-based structure of

the Office of the High Commissioner can function with independence, that it has sufficient

resources to fulfil its mandate, that it enjoys full cooperation with relevant Member States

and that it is not subjected to any reprisals or threats;

21. Requests the Office of the High Commissioner to report on its follow-up

efforts in the regular annual report of the Secretary-General submitted to the General

Assembly on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea;

22. Requests the Special Rapporteur to submit regular reports to the Human

Rights Council and to the General Assembly on the implementation of his mandate,

including on the follow-up efforts made in the implementation of the recommendations of

the commission of inquiry;

23. Urges the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,

through continuous dialogues, to invite and to cooperate fully with all special procedure

mandate holders, especially the Special Rapporteur, to give the Special Rapporteur and

supporting staff unrestricted access to visit the country, and to provide them with all

information necessary to enable them to fulfil such a mandate, and also to promote

technical cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner;

24. Encourages the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

to participate in the third cycle of the universal periodic review in 2019, to provide

comprehensive information on the implementation of recommendations accepted in the

second cycle, and to further expand cooperation with other United Nations human rights

mechanisms in order to address all human rights violations and abuses in the country;

25. Encourages the United Nations system, including its specialized agencies,

States, regional intergovernmental organizations, interested institutions, independent

experts and non-governmental organizations to develop constructive dialogue and

cooperation with special procedure mandate holders, including the Special Rapporteur, and

the field-based structure of the Office of the High Commissioner;

26. Encourages all States, the United Nations Secretariat, including relevant

specialized agencies, regional intergovernmental organizations and forums, civil society

organizations, foundations and engaged business enterprises and other stakeholders towards

which the commission of inquiry has directed recommendations to take forward those

recommendations;

27. Encourages the United Nations system as a whole to continue to address the

grave situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in a

coordinated and unified manner;

28. Encourages all States that have relations with the Democratic People’s

Republic of Korea to use their influence to encourage it to take immediate steps to end all

human rights violations, including by closing political prison camps and undertaking

profound institutional reforms;

29. Requests the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur and the

Office of the High Commissioner with regard to the field-based structure with all the

assistance and adequate staffing necessary to carry out the mandate effectively, and to

ensure that the mandate holder receives the support of the Office of the High Commissioner;

30. Decides to transmit all reports of the Special Rapporteur to all relevant bodies

of the United Nations and to the Secretary-General for appropriate action.

53rd meeting

22 March 2019

[Adopted without a vote.]