November 20, 2020 11:55
South Korea has waved through a UN resolution accusing the North Korean regime of human rights violations and urging it to improve human rights but opted out of co-sponsoring it.
The UN's Third Committee passed the resolution by consensus in a meeting at UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday. It will now be submitted to the UN General Assembly, which has adopted similar resolutions for 16 years running.
Fifty-eight countries including the U.S. and Japan co-sponsored the resolution, which is drafted by the EU, but Seoul did not join the ranks to avoid agitating North Korea for the second year running.
"We took the overall situation into consideration," a Foreign Ministry spokesman here said Thursday.
The government decided to tread softly despite North Korea's recent brutal murder of a South Korean fisheries official in the West Sea.
The resolution accuses the North Korean regime of murder, torture, organized kidnappings and restrictions on the freedom of religion, speech and assembly, while calling for the adoption of another round of sanctions targeting the "most responsible person," referring to leader Kim Jong-un.
North Korea's representative to the UN, Kim Song, was livid. He said Pyongyang "categorically rejects draft resolution entitled 'the situation of the human rights'... as a document of political plot that has nothing to do with promotion and protection of genuine human rights."
Seoul's reluctance to condemn North Korea's human rights abuses has long been a stain on its reputation. Critics have accused the government here of regularly soft-pedaling flagrant abuses and even silencing North Korean defectors here who point them out.
This year, a fresh addition to the standard text expresses concern that the precarious humanitarian conditions in North Korea could worsen quickly due to a public health crisis like the coronavirus epidemic and the North's limited capability to cope with natural disasters.
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