UN General Assembly formally adopts landmark resolution on NK human rights

December 19, 2014
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C, front row) pays tribute to the mausoleum of his father Kim Jong-il at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on Dec. 17, 2014, to mark the third anniversary of the senior Kim's death. The mausoleum enshrines the mummified bodies of Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung, the current leader's grandfather and the founder of the North Korean government. (KCNA-Yonhap)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C, front row) pays tribute to the mausoleum of his father Kim Jong-il at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on Dec. 17, 2014, to mark the third anniversary of the senior Kim’s death. The mausoleum enshrines the mummified bodies of Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung, the current leader’s grandfather and the founder of the North Korean government. (KCNA-Yonhap)

NEW YORK, Dec. 18 (Yonhap) — The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday formally adopted a landmark resolution calling for referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court for human rights violations.

The adoption has been widely expected since the resolution passed through the General Assembly’s Third Committee last month. The resolution has drawn keen attention because it would be the first-ever U.N. resolution calling for the North’s referral to the ICC.

A total of 116 nations voted for the resolution and 20 nations against it, with 53 abstentions.

However, chances of an actual referral are slim because General Assembly resolutions, unlike U.N. Security Council resolutions, are not legally binding. The Security Council is expected to take up the issue as early as next week, but is unlikely to approve a referral as China and Russia are sure to veto it.

Still, the North has protested strongly against the resolution, threatening a nuclear test in response.

Pyongyang has long been labeled as one of the worst human rights violators in the world. The communist regime does not tolerate dissent, holds hundreds of thousands of people in political prison camps and keeps tight control over outside information.

But the North has bristled at such criticism, calling it a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.

The North’s human rights problem has drawn greater international attention this year after the U.N. Commission of Inquiry issued a report in February saying North Korean leaders are responsible for “widespread, systematic and gross” violations of human rights.

The report also said the ICC should handle North Korea’s “crimes against humanity.”

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