UNITED NATIONS — The European Union and Japan have circulated a draft U.N. resolution that would condemn North Korea for diverting its resources to pursue nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles instead of helping its people, over half in need of more food and improved medical care.
Following the imprisonment of American college student Otto Warmbier, who returned home in June with brain damage and died days later, the draft also strongly urges North Korea to provide non-citizens who are detained freedom of communication and access to consular officials.
The draft, obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, “condemns the longstanding and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights” in North Korea.
It notes the findings of the U.N. commission of inquiry on North Korea in 2014 that information it received provided “reasonable grounds that crimes against humanity” have been committed in the Asian nation.
The commission concluded that crimes against humanity, including extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions, persecution, deliberate starvation and disappearances were committed “pursuant to policies at the highest level of the state.”
The U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee is expected to vote on the draft in mid-November. If approved, which is virtually certain, the world body’s 193 member states will vote on the final text in December. All previous resolutions condemning North Korea’s human rights record have been adopted.
The draft strongly urges North Korea’s government to end human rights violations, including immediately closing political prison camps and releasing all political prisoners, addressing impunity and cooperating with the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.
It urges the government to allow all North Koreans freedom of movement and freedom to leave the country, including to seek asylum, and to ensure that those who are expelled or returned to the country are not punished.
North Korea earns foreign currency from workers sent abroad who are poorly paid because the government takes most of their money, though the practice has been curtailed by the U.N. Security Council in its latest sanctions resolution. The draft resolution urges the government to join the International Labor Organization and comply with international labor standards.
Last week, the United Nations’ independent expert on human rights in North Korea, Tomas Ojea Quintana, warned the assembly rights committee that tough U.N. sanctions might be affecting the rights of civilians and called for an assessment of their impact.
The draft resolution doesn’t address the impact of sanctions, only the impact of diverting resources to advance nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs “on the humanitarian and human rights situation of the citizens” of North Korea.