ICC NOTE: The United States has created a positive situation as they hold the presidency of the UN Security Council this month to allow for a meeting to discuss human rights violations in North Korea. As usual, China and Russia have expressed their objection to the issue as they have sided with the hermit kingdom in the past. However, recently North Korea has shown signs of cooperation, especially with South Korea, through allowing family reunions and offering regular visits by South Korean Christian leaders into the north. The meeting has already been discussed by the security council and was denied last year due to the veto power of China and Russia. This year could be more difficult for them to veto as certain procedural rules were set in to motion to allow for the meeting to possibly go forth.
12/8/2015 Seoul, South Korea (VOA News) —China and Russia may not be able to prevent the United States from calling a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on human rights in North Korea this week, but they are expected to stop it from passing any punitive resolutions.
The Security Council is made up of five permanent members with veto rights: the United States, China, Russia, France, and Britain; as well as 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year terms.
Last year the 193-member U.N. General Assembly voted to send to the Security Council a resolution to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court based on a U.N. Commission of Inquiry that documented its network of political prisons and widespread human violations that include torture, enslavement, rape and murder.
The Security Council debated the measure but declined to call a vote given the near certainty that North Korea’s allies Russia and China would veto it.
However once the Security Council puts an issue in its agenda, that issue can be brought up again at any time.
The U.S., which this month holds the presidency of the Council, set a special meeting for Thursday to revisit this issue.
China has reportedly objected to the meeting, arguing that it is beyond the scope of the peace and security mandate of the Council.
Russia supposedly voiced a procedural complaint, saying the matter should have been raised at a prior session earlier this month.
Eight other council members supported the U.S. decision to put the issue on agenda – Chile, France, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain, and Britain.
It is unlikely that at Thursday’s meeting China and Russia will agree to support the resolution to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court.
Keeping up the pressure
Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said it is important to keep this issue alive at the highest levels of the U.N. as a way to pressure North Korea to end systematic human rights violations and hold its leaders accountable for past abuse.
“Any sort of mention of human rights of North Korea at the U.N. Security Council immediately sets off alarm bells in Pyongyang and that is how it should be. We want to continue to hold their feet to the fire,” said Robertson.