The European Union has presented changes to a UN resolution condemning North Korea’s rights records in a bid to counter a push by Cuba to water down the measure ahead of a vote next week.
A new text presented to a UN General Assembly committee on human rights yesterday included a provision that welcomed North Korea’s offer of cooperation with the UN human rights commissioner and its invitation to visit to the UN special rapporteur.
The new resolution obtained by AFP still calls on the UN Security Council to consider referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for a probe of crimes against humanity.
The changes were in response to an amendment presented by Cuba this week that calls for scrapping any reference to the ICC and to opt instead for cooperation through the fact-finding visit and talks with the UN rights office.
Diplomats said adding the provision would signal that the international community is willing to engage with North Korea on improving human rights even as it pursues accountability for serious crimes.
The resolution, co-sponsored by 48 countries including Britain, France and the United States, is due to come up for a vote in the so-called Third Committee on Tuesday before going to the full Assembly next month.
A vote will also be held on the Cuban amendment which is expected to draw support in particular from African countries that have qualms with the ICC.
Supporters of the EU-Japan text are hoping for a strong vote in support of the resolution to push the Security Council into taking action against Pyongyang.
The resolution condemns human rights abuses and calls for an investigation following the findings of a UN inquiry that laid bare the brutality of the North Korean regime.
The inquiry’s report, released in February, is based on testimony of North Korean exiles and details a vast network of prison camps and documented cases of torture, rape, murder and enslavement.
It included evidence suggesting crimes against humanity had been committed by North Korean officials at the highest level of the state.
The UN report stirred alarm in Pyongyang, which in recent months has launched a diplomatic offensive to prevent the resolution from gaining steam.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is sending a special envoy to Russia for talks next week with President Vladimir Putin, whose country holds veto power in the 15-member Security Council.