On the 18th August, Lord Eames received a written response to a question concerning steps the UK Government is taking to prevent sexual violence in the DPRK, as detailed in the UN Commission of Inquiry’s report.
Lord Eames asked “what bilateral steps have been taken by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to end sexual violence in North Korea; whether experts from its Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative have entered into dialogue with the government of North Korea; and what assessment they have made of whether any projects explicitly designed to improve the rights of women in North Korean society have ever been implemented in North Korea.”
Responding on behalf of the UK Government, Baroness Anelay, the new Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, responded:
“We have been clear with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) that we find its appalling human rights record unacceptable and have called on it to take action in response to all of the Commission of Inquiry’s findings, including those relating to sexual and gender-based violence. We have also worked with the South Korean based non-governmental organisation, Citizens Alliance (NKHR), to fund a project on North Korean refugees and women’s rights in the DPRK and to increase the NGO’s capability in this field. The report produced through this project was submitted to the Commission of Inquiry and formed part of the evidence for their report.”
“We do not have a full audit of projects undertaken by other Embassies, UN Agencies or NGOs. With regard to UK projects within the DPRK, it is only possible to undertake projects with a willing North Korean counterpart. We have not previously undertaken projects specifically designed to improve women’s rights or sexual and gender-based violence. To date experts from the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative have not held discussions with the Government of DPRK. The DPRK recently accepted a number of recommendations from its 2009 Universal Periodic Review, including some that related to equality and women’s rights. This creates a potential opportunity for engagement. We are currently considering how we might exploit this most effectively.”