North Korea

House of Lords written question – answered on 26th September 2014.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the reply by Baroness Warsi on 23 July (HL Deb, cols GC 460–4) on the Commission of Inquiry Report on human rights in North Korea, how many of the Commission’s recommendations that pertain specifically to Her Majesty’s Government have been implemented thus far; and whether there are any recommendations that they do not intend to implement.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State, Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

The Commission of Inquiry made nineteen recommendations to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) (para 1220, (a) – (s)); six for China and other States in the context of trafficking and forced repatriation of refugees (para 1221 (a) – (f)); one relating to inter-Korean relations (para 1222); two directed at states, civil society organisations, foundations and business enterprises (1223 and 1224) and ten to the international community and the United Nations (1225 (a) – (j)).

The recommendations relating to trafficking and forced repatriation do not apply directly to the UK. However, we have been clear with the Chinese government and others that we believe that people who have escaped from the DPRK are entitled to protection and should be allowed safe passage to resettlement in third countries.

Para 1223 relates to people-to-people dialogue and contact in areas such as culture, science, sports, good governance and economic development. As one of the few countries with a presence on the ground in Pyongyang, the UK can play a particular role in implementing this recommendation. We already seek to expose North Koreans to the outside world through the British Council English language training programme and other engagement activities.

Para 1224 recommends that states and others should support the work of civil society organisations to improve the human rights situation in the DPRK, including efforts to document violations and to broadcast accessible information into each country. The UK has previously funded projects with South Korean non-governmental organisations related to documenting violations in the DPRK. We have also worked with international and domestic organisations within the DPRK to improve the treatment of disabled people. Our focus on direct engagement complements that of others, like the US, who support broadcasts into the DPRK.

With regard to the recommendations for the international community and the United Nations, my noble friend, the former Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Baroness Warsi), set out in detail in her reply on 23 July (Official Report, column GC461) the UK’s position on the recommendations for the UN Security Council (para 1225(a)) and our commitment to ensuring that the international community takes action in response to the Commission’s report (para 1225(f)). The recommendations in para 1225 (b) and (c) have been taken forward through the UN Human Rights Council and those in (d), (e) and (g) are primarily for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Secretariat. We are currently exploring the prospects for taking forward para 1225(h), which recommends forming a human rights contact group. Para 1225(i) relates to provision of humanitarian assistance. The UK does not have a bilateral aid programme in the DPRK, but agrees fully with points made in this recommendation about how such assistance should be provided.

Para 1225(j) recommends the convening of a high-level political conference to consider a final peaceful settlement to the Korean War. A comprehensive resolution of the situation on the Korean peninsula will require the DPRK to address the international community's legitimate security concerns.

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