North Korea said Tuesday it will boycott the United Nations Human Rights Council session because it believes that the meeting has been politically contaminated and that the members have been applying double standards, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported, citing North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong.
Ri said in a speech in Geneva that the United States and its allies were unnecessarily focusing on North Korea’s human rights because Pyongyang has powerful nuclear and military deterrent. He also said that North Korea will respond strongly to anyone or any country that uses human rights as a political tool.
“We shall no longer participate in international sessions singling out the human rights situation of the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] for mere political attack,” Ri said, according to the Associated Press (AP), adding that any resolutions against Pyongyang will only serve as a “proof of partiality and double standards.”
The U.N. council's session, which began in Geneva on Feb. 29, will conclude on March 24. The 47-member council is set to discuss Pyongyang’s human rights record on March 14 as part of a regular review.
Besides, the U.N. Security Council is also set to vote on Wednesday on a new resolution that would expand sanctions against the Kim Jong Un-led East Asian nation.
Ri also said, according to Yonhap, that the evidence of human rights abuses in North Korea came from defectors, who were bought or kidnapped using the money that came mostly from the U.S., South Korea or Japan.
Meanwhile, South Korea's Unification Ministry on Wednesday urged Pyongyang to improve human rights conditions in the country. "Now is time for North Korea to look back upon its dismal human rights situation and make efforts to substantially improve it," Jeong Joon-hee, a ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing Wednesday, according to Yonhap.
The council is set to consider a report from last month by the U.N. human rights office's rapporteur Marzuki Darusman on North Korea, in which he warned that Kim and his officials could be held accountable for any crimes they are found to have committed. Darusman was also on a U.N. Commission of Inquiry on North Korea, which in 2014 talked about harsh systems in North Korea like political prison camps that hold up to 120,000 people. The commission had urged to refer Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court.
Ri, in response, referred to the “systematic racial discrimination” in the U.S., and the "deplorable human rights violations” linked to gun violence in the country, and said that the council has not paid attention to them, according to the AP. He also slammed the European countries and cited the ongoing refugee crisis, saying that several asylum-seekers have “drowned in the sea or choked to death in a sealed lorry as in the case of Europe.”