U.N. to Form Experts Group on Human Rights in North Korea: Official

nkorea-wire-feb2013.gif North Korea is seen across the Yalu River from the Chinese border town of Dujiagou in a file photo.

To support its monitoring of human rights violations in North Korea, the United Nations will soon establish a group of independent experts to assist newly appointed special rapporteur Tomas Quintana, UN human rights official Signe Poulsen says. Speaking in an interview with Ahreum Jung of RFA’s Korean Service, Poulsen—representative of the UN Human Rights Office in Seoul, South Korea—discusses the work of her office and the plans to form the experts group.

“Our office has been working for one year now, and we have a mandate which the Human Rights Council outlined for us.  We do three main things: One of them is the monitoring and documentation of the human rights situation in the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]—trying to find out what’s happening, trying to update information, and also looking at the older cases from the past.”

“A second area is keeping the issue of human rights visible on the international and national agenda. So, doing outreach, talking to the media, working with civil society to raise awareness about the situation in North Korea.”

“And finally we also do technical cooperation or capacity-building, where we work with civil society and relevant governments, as well as other stakeholders, to try to raise awareness about the United Nations and how countries can work in cooperation with the United Nations on improving and promoting human rights in their own countries.”

“So those are the broad areas we work on.”

“Coming up in the near future, we have the General Assembly of the United Nations where two different reports on the human rights situation will be presented, one by the Secretary General and one by the special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the DPRK, Tomas Quintana.”

“The group of independent experts was called for in a resolution of the Human Rights Council in March of this year, and that group will consist of two people who will support the special rapporteur in looking at what options for accountability might exist, not only internationally, but also in the regional and national framework.”

“Their report will be published in March, at the next meeting of the Human Rights Council.”

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