September 26, 2016 12:50
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se last week asked the UN General Assembly whether North Korea is worthy of being a member of the world body after its repeated missile and nuclear tests and human rights abuses.
Article 1 of the UN Charter says the aim of the world body is to maintain global peace and security and to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to them.
North Korea became a UN member along with South Korea in 1991 and for the next 25 years systematically trampled on Article 1. It has developed nuclear weapons and missiles posing a serious threat to international peace, while causing large numbers of its people to starve to death. Yet it has calmly taken aid from the international community to deal with acute food shortages and flood damage.
The UN has condemned North Korea six times since 2006 for developing nuclear weapons and adopted several resolutions imposing sanctions against Pyongyang.
The UN Security Council has already issued 10 statements since North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test this year and has been urging the North for a decade to clean up its human rights record. Two years ago, the UN even adopted a resolution asking the UNSC to take the North to the International Criminal Court for its human rights violations.
But the North has honored none of these warnings. Instead, the isolated state has responded by conducting more nuclear and missile tests and summary executions using flamethrowers and anti-aircraft guns.
On the same day as Yun's speech, the UN Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights announced its findings on the status of North Korean laborers working overseas, who are being robbed of their wages by the regime. Workers sent to labor abroad are forced to toil 12-hour days and constantly monitored by agents and their passports are confiscated. They are slaves. As a result, North Korea stands out even among dictatorships with UN membership when it comes to human rights abuses.
UN membership should be restricted to nations that are willing to abide by its charter. Persistent violators can be ousted if two thirds of UN members agree. But that has never happened, and Russia and China, which are standing members of the UN Security Council, will probably block the ouster of North Korea too. But ignoring the North’s abuses is no longer an option.
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