UN Testimony: World Must Act for Women’s Rights in North Korea

Testimony by United Nations Watch to 52nd Session of the Human Rights Council, Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, delivered by Sam Namias on 20 March 2023:

Thank you, Mr. President. I am honored to deliver this statement jointly with United Nations Watch.

We commend the Special Rapporteur for her report, and for taking a gender-sensitive approach to documenting abhorrent human rights abuses in the DPRK.

The report notes that, in 2001, the DPRK ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Moreover, in its most recent Voluntary National Review of the Sustainable Development Goals, the DPRK claimed to have, and I quote “achieved gender equality a long time ago.”

Yet the reality on the ground is starkly different. According to testimonies collected by the Korea Institute for National Unification, women who unsuccessfully try to escape the oppressive DPRK are sent to labor camps, where they often fall victim to sexual violence. They are classified as ‘criminals’ and ‘traitors.’ Repatriated pregnant women defectors are forced to have abortions, or leave their newborns unattended to die.

Women who do manage to escape are then at the mercy of Chinese traffickers. Defector Yeonmi Park has testified how her mother was raped by a Chinese broker and then sold as a slave. She spent two years hiding from Chinese police who would have sent her back to North Korea. “Even the word ‘love’,” she said, “has only one meaning in North Korea: love for the Dear Leader.”

Mr. President,

The suffering people of North Korea cannot speak for themselves. It is our duty to be their voice.

We urge this Council to hold the despotic DPRK to account for crimes committed against their own people.

I thank you.

UN Watch