The US says its plan to hold a meeting on rights abuses will move forward despite protests from North Korea and China.
North Korea has voiced opposition to an upcoming United Nations Security Council meeting about its human rights record, accusing the United States of advancing its own agenda by leading the effort.
On Tuesday, North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Kim Son Gyong called plans for the open meeting, scheduled for Thursday, “despicable”. China, which has close ties to North Korea, also spoke against the meeting.
“China sees no added value for the council to have such a meeting and will be against it,” China’s UN mission spokesperson said earlier this week, adding that the council’s mandate was “maintenance of international peace and security, not human rights”.
The meeting, the first of its kind since 2017, takes place as the US holds the presidency of the UN Security Council for a month-long period.
North Korea’s human rights abuses aid its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile program.
This is a pressing matter of international peace and security. That’s why, as the current President of the Security Council, I’m bringing this issue before the Council.https://t.co/2nymBMnvoO
— Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield (@USAmbUN) August 14, 2023
The US, Albania and Japan requested the meeting, which requires the support of at least nine of the council’s 15 members.
China and Russia could try to block the proceedings, but US officials have expressed confidence they have the necessary votes to move forward.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the Security Council must “address the horrors, the abuses and crimes being perpetrated” by the government of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
North Korea, which has been under UN sanctions since 2006 due to its ballistic missile and nuclear programme, rejects criticism of its human rights record. It has blamed international sanctions for the country’s grim humanitarian situation.
It has also accused the US of cloaking efforts to advance its geopolitical interests in the name of human rights and international law.
On Tuesday, Vice Foreign Minister Kim reiterated those claims, saying the US is only interested in “realising its narrow-minded and hegemonic geopolitical purpose” and that the meeting “has nothing to do with the universal conception of human rights protection”.
The US, meanwhile, denies that sanctions are to blame for the hardship in North Korea, pointing the finger instead at the country’s government.
“North Koreans are suffering while the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] regime diverts a large share of its budget and resources to weapons development,” Nate Evans, the spokesperson for the US Mission to the United Nations, told The Associated Press in response to Tuesday’s remarks.
Kim Jong-Un recently ordered a large boost in the production of missiles and other weapons to prepare for possible hostilities. That demand comes as North Korea has ramped up its missile launches this year, announcing the first test of a long-range solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in April.