Debate on Recommendation 1225 H and the Formation of a Human Rights Contact Group

Lord Alton, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, received a written response from Baroness Warsi, Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to a question regarding the actions of the UK Government concerning Recommendation 1225 (h) of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry:

Recommendation 1225 (h): States that have historically friendly ties with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, major donors and potential donors, as well as those states already engaged with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the framework of the Six-Party Talks, should form a human rights contact group to raise concerns about the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and to provide support for initiatives to improve the situation.

Responding on behalf of the Government, Baroness Warsi argued “that the UK does not fall into the aforementioned categories” but that “a senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office official did meet COI members in April to discuss a range of issues associated with human rights in the DPRK, including the proposal to form a contact group”.

Although the UK was not a member of the Six-Party Talks, the UK has had formal diplomatic relations with the DPRK for nearly fifteen years, is one of only a handful of countries to maintain an embassy in Pyongyang (which was established in 2001) and has recently accredited a non-resident Defence Attaché to Pyongyang and given a DPRK attaché in Moscow similar status.

Further to this long-standing diplomatic relationship, the UK funds multiple projects in the DPRK, organises a number of exchanges for DPRK officials and, according to Hugo Swire MP, has provided a 23.5% share to the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund for the DPRK and 15.5% to EU humanitarian support.

Benedict Rogers and Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who led the prosecution of Slobodan Milošević at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, recently urged the international community to implement the recommendations of the COI, claiming that “It is imperative that the Commission of Inquiry’s report serves as a manifesto for international policy, not simply a harrowing catalogue of horrors or an academic piece of research that gathers dust on a shelf. Truth-telling is an essential part of justice, but it is only a part”.