An official website of the United States government

Ambassador Robert King on Human Rights Issues in North Korea
March 16, 2010

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights
in Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea

Agenda Item 4

Statement of the United States of America
Delivered by Ambassador Robert King,
Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues
Human Rights Council, Geneva

March 15, 2010

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States welcomes the report of Special Rapporteur Muntarbhorn and thanks him for his six years of service as Rapporteur for the DPRK. We find it lamentable that the government did not allow him to visit the country and did not engage with him on the important work he has done. His reports have given us rich insights into what is happening in the DPRK and have provided solid recommendations for improving the lives of the citizens of that country.

The United States would like to focus on just a few points of his report. We agree with the Rapporteur that the people of the DPRK suffer under a pervasive state of fear, imposed by the state through its extensive surveillance and informant system. We also share his concern that resource distribution is used as a means of state control and is skewed toward the ruling elite. Moreover, the recent currency reform and clampdown on markets have greatly reduced the population’s ability to provide for their basic needs. What more can the donor community do to help resources reach the most vulnerable parts of the population?

The Special Rapporteur also focused on the plight of refugees and asylum seekers. The treatment of people returned to the DPRK has long troubled the United States. We urge countries that have DPRK refugee and asylum seekers to afford them the protection required by international law. We also call on the DPRK to end punishment of these individuals and their families.

The United States welcomes the rapporteur’s far-sighted recommendations, both to the DPRK and to the international community, and agrees that improving conditions in the country requires an integrated and collaborative approach. The United States would be interested in further insights from Professor Muntarbhorn on how countries can utilize their bilateral relationships in an integrated manner to advance human rights issues in the DPRK.

Finally, I would like to say that this mandate is very important, and we look forward to its renewal during this HRC session.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.