EU Statement – UN Security Council Arria-formula meeting: Human Rights in the DPRK

17 March 2023, New York - European Union Statement deliverd by  Christophe Forax, First Counsellor, at the United Nations Security Council Arria-formula Meeting on the Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

 - Check against delivery -


I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia*, Albania*, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina*, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein member of the European Economic Area, as well as, Monaco and San Marino align themselves with this statement.

The European Union remains seriously concerned by the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in the DPRK, as underlined by several reports by the Special Rapporteur.

Ten years after the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry, there are no signs of a willingness by the DPRK to make any progress. On the contrary, the overall human rights situation in the DPRK continues to be deeply concerning. Children suffer from a continued lack of access to basic economic, social and cultural rights, many are exposed to malnutrition and are exploited for labour. The overall humanitarian situation, also due to impact of the coronavirus disease pandemic and the prolonged closure of the borders coupled with limited access to food, medicines and health care, remains bleak. We urge the DPRK to grant access for international humanitarian staff and other international staff, and to allow their return.

The EU will not allow violations and abuses of human rights in the DPRK to become a forgotten crisis. Both at the Human Rights Council and at the General Assembly, the EU is the pen-holder of the resolutions which serve to maintain international attention on the situation. The fact that this resolution is now systematically adopted with consensus proves our concerns are shared by the entire international community.

The EU is a strong supporter of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in the DPRK and we support the work of the OHCHR and its Seoul field based structure.


The EU calls on the DPRK to meaningfully engage with the UN human rights system, notably with the Special Rapporteur. It is also key for the DPRK to engage with the Republic of Korea to make concrete progress in the field of human rights. Separated families must be allowed to reunite across the border. The cases of international abductions must be solved.


At the same time, the EU keeps the door to bilateral dialogue with the DPRK open. We strongly support a two-track approach of both pursuing accountability and engagement.



Without respecting, protecting and fulfilling all human rights, there can be no lasting peace, no security nor stability, and no enduring development and prosperity.

Human rights violations – be they related to civil, political, economic, social or cultural rights, are at the root of instability and conflicts. They lead to the government seeking legitimacy not from improving its people’s welfare, but by becoming ever more repressive and developing ever more menacing weapons of destruction intended to threaten and intimidate countries around the world, fuelling tensions in the region. The perpetuation of this situation leads to an ever more worrying spiral of events in which the risk of conflict is rising.

Respect for human rights and the rule of law are essential elements in building sustainable peace and security. It is essential for building the trust needed to move towards a denuclearised Korean peninsula. It is a pre-requisite for the people’s capability to develop their economy and lead fulfilling lives.

OHCHR collects and analyses information relating to serious human rights violations committed in the DPRK, some of which may amount to international crimes. The Security Council must recognise that addressing the human rights situation is critical in reversing this negative cycle and upholding international peace and security. Holding perpetrators of human rights violations accountable for their actions is critical in deterring further violations and abuses. It is a key element in bringing justice to victims and rebuilding trust within a society.

As it is underlined in the UN Secretary General’s Call to Action for Human Rights, a concerted effort is necessary in order to ensure predictable and consistent UN responses to human rights crises, including accountability mechanisms. The Security Council has an important role to play in this effort. By including the DPRK on its agenda, the Security Council ensures global awareness of the dangers to international peace and security posed by the violation of human rights in the country.

The Security Council has a responsibility to ensure that perpetrators of human rights violations could be held accountable for their crimes. The gathering of information and evidence for use in future avenues of accountability is an instrument in addressing this threat to international peace and security. The EU calls on the Security Council to recognise and support the role of UN bodies and civil society organisations involved in this work.

If the DPRK continues to fail in its responsibility, the Security Council should follow the recommendations of the General Assembly to consider referring the situation to the International Criminal Court, which is an indispensable instrument of the international community to combat impunity.  We recall that the General Assembly has further recommended that the Security Council develop sanctions to effectively target those responsible for human rights violations, which the Commission of Inquiry indicated might constitute crimes against humanity.

Addressing the human rights situation is not a hostile act. The EU encourages the Security Council to call on the DPRK to engage with UN human rights bodies as a critical element in promoting peace and security in the region. The EU stands ready to support such engagement. The EU is convinced that experience and instruments used in other regions provide the means for the DPRK to move towards complying with its human rights obligations.

Until it does this, the threat to international peace and security will increase. This is why we call on the Security Council to address the human rights situation in the DPRK.

I thank you.


* North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.