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UN Security Council to hold meeting on NK human rights next week

June 8, 2024 - 10:44 By Yonhap

A North Korean soldier stands guard at a border outpost in this photo taken on Monday, from South Korea's border city of Paju, 37 kilometers northwest of Seoul. (Yonhap)

WASHINGTON -- The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will have an official meeting on North Korean human rights issues next week for the first time in less than a year, its work schedule showed Friday, as South Korea as this month's UNSC president seeks to highlight the link between the North's security challenge and its repressive political climate.

The council is set to hold a briefing on the North's human rights situation on Wednesday. It last held a meeting on the same issue in August, ending a six-year hiatus.

A meeting of the 15-member council requires support from at least nine member countries. China and Russia, the two traditional partners of the North, are known to have opposed the idea of making North Korea's human rights an official UNSC agenda item.

The planned meeting comes as Seoul and Washington have stressed that the North's political climate has allowed the regime to divert a large share of its scarce resources to its nuclear and weapons of mass destruction programs without comment from the population that has long suffered from economic hardships.

"We firmly believe that the Security Council should not neglect the latent risks that systematic human rights violations in the DPRK pose to international peace and security," South Korea's Ambassador to the UN Hwang Joon-kook told reporters on Monday. DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"Human rights, peace and security issues should be approached in a holistic manner, especially in the case of the DPRK," he added.

During South Korea's presidency, the UNSC also plans to hold a high-level open debate on cybersecurity on June 20. Seoul has paid closer attention to cybersecurity as Pyongyang has allegedly engaged in various cyber activities to evade sanctions and generate revenue to fund its weapons programs.

The UNSC presidency rotates among the council's member states on a monthly basis. Seoul last held the UNSC presidency in May 2014. (Yonhap)