UK Government to Keep UNSC Resolution “under review”

In a written response from Baroness Warsi, Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Minister confirmed that the UK Government will “keep the prospect of a UNSC Resolution under review”, whilst pursuing active dialogue at an upcoming  UN General Assembly session and “a strong DPRK resolution, strongly supported, in the UNGA Third Committee”.

Responding to Lord Alton, who also asked if the UK Government would sponsor a UNSC Resolution “if it appears to face resistance from Russia or China”, Baroness Warsi noted that “The UK believes strongly that there should be no impunity for serious international crimes, such as those which the Commission of Inquiry found are being committed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).”

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”.

Fiona Bruce MP Raises Issues of North Korean Labour and Broadcasting with UK Government

Fiona Bruce MP, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, raised four questions with the the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on matters of concern in the DPRK; namely:

  • What steps the UK has taken to implement the recommendations on supporting the broadcasting of accessible information into the DPRK (UN COI, Rec. 1224).
  • What steps the UK has taken to increase the flow of impartial information into the DPRK following recommendations by the UN COI.
  • If the UK Government will propose legislation that prevents UK companies profiting from North Korean labour; and what steps the UK has taken to ensure that UK companies are compliant with international laws on human trafficking, slavery and forced labour in their contracts with North Korean companies.
  • What discussions the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has had with the UN on the report of the UN COI.

Read the full questions and answers here.

 

Lord Alton Questions UK Government Action on UNCOI Report

During a Queen’s Speech debate in the House of Lords on the 11th June, Lord Alton, Co-Chair of the APPG NK, questioned the UK Government’s actions concerning the findings laid out in the United Nations Commission of Inquiry.

Lord Alton

Lord Alton commented:

“I have chaired the All-Party Group on North Korea for 10 years. Earlier this year, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, chaired by Mr Justice Kirby, said of North Korea: ‘The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world’.” 

“If that is so, why have we done nothing so far to ensure that the findings in that commission of inquiry report have been laid before the Security Council?”

Link: House of Lords Debate (Hansard)

Fiona Bruce MP and Benedict Rogers: What to do now about the most closed country in the world

Fiona Bruce MP, Vice Chair of the APPG NK, and Benedict Rogers of Christian Solidarity Worldwide have co-authored an article for ConservativeHome.com on the challenges and options that Britain faces in its attempts to bring reform to the DPRK.

Benedict Rogers & Fiona Bruce MP
Benedict Rogers & Fiona Bruce MP

Listing four key recommendations for government policy – namely, a referral of the DPRK to the International Criminal Court; support for a BBC World Service in the Korean-language; increased engagement with Britain’s North Korean refugee community; and greater normative pressure on the PRC to end its forcible repatriation of North Korean refugees – the authors call for a sustained momentum in the international community and “a much greater sense of urgency…at the very highest levels of government”.

Link: Fiona Bruce and Benedict Rogers: What to do now about the most closed country in the world

APPG NK launches its Twitter and Facebook pages

Information about upcoming events, news of parliamentary questions and debates concerning the DPRK and related points of interest can now also be found on the APPG NK’s new Twitter and Facebook pages.

Release of ‘Unspeakable and Unparalleled: North Korea’s Crimes Against Humanity’

On the 13th May, the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission (CPHRC) released a report, Unspeakable and Unparalleled: North Korea’s Crimes Against Humanity, which addressed human rights violations by the DPRK regime, the North Korean refugee crisis and efforts that seek to end the regime’s monopoly on information.

CPHRC Hearing
The CPHRC takes evidence in the Houses of Parliament

Taking evidence from three public hearings, the report called on the British Government to lead a campaign to bring North Korea to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Released ahead of a debate in Westminster Hall led by Andrew Selous MP on human rights in North Korea, the report contains thirteen recommendations and urges the British Government to “ensure that in every discussion on North Korea at the UN, at every level, human rights concerns are placed on the agenda alongside security concerns”.

Fiona Bruce MP, Vice Chair of the APPG NK and Chair of the CPHRC, said: “North Korea is the world’s most closed nation, with the world’s worst human rights record. UN experts have compared it to the Holocaust and described it as sui generis – in a category of its own. It is also one of the world’s most neglected human rights tragedies. It is time for people of all political persuasions to stand up and speak out for North Korea. We welcome the steps the United Kingdom has taken, but there is even more we can do, and this report sets out the case for prioritising North Korea as a human rights crisis that requires our attention. Momentum is building, and we hope this report will further awaken the consciences of policy-makers and the public alike, in Britain and around the world. It is time to act.”

Link: Download the full report here: Unspeakable and Unparalleled: North Korea’s Crimes Against Humanity