United Nations-North Korea:Update. Member countries of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution authorizing the Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, as alleged in a UN inquiry report released in February.
There were 116 votes in favor of the resolution, with 20 against and 53 abstentions. The resolution, which was drafted by the European Union and Japan, was approved last month by the 193-member assembly's Third Committee, which deals with human rights.
Comment: Every year the General Assembly votes on resolutions that criticize North Korea, Iran and Syria for their lack of respect of human rights. This is one of the few times that the General Assembly has referred a member to the ICC. It might represent a major step forward in the maturity of the organization because the allegations against North Korea are not new. North Korean disrespect for human dignity is longstanding, systemic and pervasive, including prison camps, systematic torture, starvation and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities.
The only mitigating factor is that living conditions for people who are not members of the Korean Workers' Party or the Korean People's Army are not much better than those for people in the political prisons. North Korea remains and is proud of being the last Stalinist state.
What seems to offend the majority of the General Assembly is that the atrocities of the North Korean regime originate with the Kim family itself and are institutionalized throughout the government and party systems.
One commentator observed that the vote is largely symbolic and non-binding. That comment minimizes the significance of a vote by an overwhelming majority of the members of the United Nations that North Korea stands alone as the country whose government abuses its people more than any other on the planet.
This is the inheritance of Kim Jong Un. The tragedy is that this western educated leader had an opportunity to change the system, but has proven too weak.