United Nations Security Council Arria-formula Meeting 

Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Statement by Latvia

We thank Albania and the US for organizing this Arria Formula meeting on the Situation of the Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Latvia firmly believes that upholding International Human Right Law is a core task of the United Nations. There cannot be global peace and development unless fundamental rights of every individual are respected.

There are numerous reports, including by the United Nations, of grave and systematic violations of human rights in the DPRK. This serves as a litmus test for the will and determination of the international community to act against impunity of such violations of human rights and seek accountability.  

Unfortunately, we collectively have not been up to the task so far. As highlighted in the report of Secretary - General on the Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, published in July 2022, DPRK continues to increase repression of the rights and freedoms of its people. The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated these developments. At the same time, there has been no progress in securing accountability for the gross human rights violations in the DPRK. 

Already in 2014, the UN Commission of inquiry concluded that these violations by the DPRK regime may amount to crimes against humanity. Discrimination, systematic use of torture, denial of fundamental freedoms, including the right of citizens to leave and return to their country, as well as forced labor and use of camps for political prisoners are but some of the grave realities faced by the people of the DPRK. No one is spared from repression, including, women, children and the elderly.

In Latvia, which once suffered under the totalitarian rule of the USSR, every family still keeps painful stories about such repressions from decades ago. Therefore, it is unimaginable and utterly unacceptable that some regimes regard themselves empowered to continue such brutal practices today, in the 21st century.

Furthermore, DPRK’s abysmal human rights record intersects with its irresponsible foreign policies. Despite its efforts to present itself as a victim, it is the regime of the DPRK, which has breached international norms by pursuing and accelerating illegal weapon of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs. It is the regime of the DPRK, which acts in opposite to the needs of its own people by keeping its borders closed to humanitarian assistance and by diverting its scarce funds to military programmes, instead of accommodating basic humanitarian needs of its citizens. We would also like to highlight the unresolved issue of abduction of foreign nationals by the DPRK, which involves a serious violation of human rights. In addition, we are deeply concerned about reports of DPRK’s arms deliveries to Russia for use in its unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine, which are in breach of relevant Security Council resolutions.  

Latvia strongly believes that international community must not take its eyes off the situation in DPRK. For this reason, Latvia was among 62 cosponsors of the letter submitted this February with a request to maintain the human rights situation in the DPRK on the agenda of the Security Council. We believe this Arria meeting has proved the importance of discussing this issue in the Security Council, and we would urge all members of the Security Council to agree on a formal follow-up meeting in due course.

Finally, we have to redouble efforts to seek accountability for those who are responsible violation of human rights in DPRK. All avenues should be explored, including potential referral of this case to the International Criminal Court, as well as additional sanctions targeting the perpetrators.

I thank you.