14
Nov
09

North Korea will take its turn for show and tell at the UN in December

(Source: CNN.com)

On 7 December North Korea will take its turn at the front of the UN class to talk about its human rights situation. This session is part of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a four-year cycle during which time all countries who are State Parties to the UN take a turn to have their human rights record discussed.

The process of the UPR goes beyond the review session in December. The process for North Korea began at the beginning of 2009 when initial submissions from civil society was submitted to the UN. Later in the year North Korea itself submitted a document about its human rights record and the UN submitted a briefing based on the recommendations given to North Korea in the past by various treaty bodies to which North Korea is a State Party.

The format of the December session is not a ‘committee of experts’ criticising North Korea and then handing out a list of recommendations which North Korea has no intention of implementing. Such as you see for sessions related to international law which North Korea has signed up to. Rather, it is a peer review. State Parties sign up in advance that they wish to say something during the session. A selected troika of countries will Chair the session. As a State Party’s name is called out the representative will say something about North Korea’s human rights, ask a question and then probably give a recommendation. For example: “The country of X welcomes that North Korea amended its constitution to include something or other on human rights. We would like to ask how many people are in prison camps in North Korea, which we hear are very bad places. We recommend that North Korea shut down the prison camps.”

After several state parties have a turn, North Korea can respond. For example: “Thanks for noticing our token effort to include human rights in the constitution. We have no prison camps therefore we don’t need to close any of them down. Stop interfering in our country.” And so it will go on for about three hours.

After that the recommendations will be written up. North Korea will respond in writing to say which recommendations it accepts, rejects or will think about. And later on there are chances to see how they are going. And in four years, North Korea will be reviewed again.

For the dedicated, the main UPR session in December will be live webcast.

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