By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States and eight allies on the United Nations Security Council on Thursday called for reviving discussions on human rights in North Korea, which has been accused by a U.N. inquiry of abuses comparable to Nazi-era atrocities.
"Last year in December the U.N. Security Council convened for the first time in history to discuss the human rights in (North Korea)," Hagar Chemali, spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said in a statement.
"Today, Chile, France, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States have requested another meeting of the Security Council to examine conditions in DPRK (North Korea) and their effects on international peace and security," she added.
Chemali said the United States, which holds the council's rotating presidency this month, would work quickly to schedule the meeting.
Last month China's U.N. ambassador, Liu Jieyi, said it would be a "bad idea" for the 15-nation Security Council to hold such a meeting, adding that the council "is not about human rights." [nL1N136007]
The Security Council added human rights in North Korea to its agenda last year, despite objections by China that led to a rare procedural vote. Beijing is a strong ally of Pyongyang.
When speaking to reporters last month, Liu did not rule out a new procedural vote, though Western diplomats say they have sufficient votes to overcome Chinese objections.
China's and North Korea's U.N. missions did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
A year ago this month the 193-member U.N. General Assembly urged the U.N. Security Council to consider referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court after a U.N. Commission of Inquiry detailed wide-ranging abuses in the hermit Asian state.
China is likely to veto any Security Council bid to refer North Korea to the ICC, diplomats said.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said it was important to keep council discussions on the situation in North Korea alive.
"We believe it is critical for the council to continue to shine a light on the abuses in North Korea and speak regularly about the DPRK's human rights situation – and what we can do to change it – for as long as the crimes committed there persist," she said in the statement.
(Additonal reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Sandra Maler)