UN OKs measures targeting North Korea, Iran, Syria

AP News
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Posted: Dec 18, 2014 1:16 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday approved resolutions criticizing the human rights situations of North Korea, Iran and Syria.

North Korea has been outraged by the resolution that urges the U.N. Security Council to refer the country's human rights situation to the International Criminal Court. The council will meet for the first time Monday on North Korea's human rights violations.

North Korea says the U.N. instead should investigate the CIA's harsh treatment of terror suspects. Its representative on Thursday said his country "totally rejects" the resolution and what he called the abuse of human rights issues as a tool for overthrowing a country's leadership.

North Korea's deputy ambassador, An Myong Hun, said his country "totally rejects" the resolution and what he called the abuse of human rights issues as a tool to overthrow a country's leadership.

While General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, they can be a strong expression of world opinion.

The representatives of Syria and Iran also protested their respective resolutions Thursday, with Iran's representative calling the effort "political, prejudicial and unbalanced."

The resolutions criticizing Iran and Syria do not threaten the kind of action that the one on North Korea does. They are annual measures that express concerns over regular reports of U.N. special rapporteurs. The special rapporteur for Iran, who has not been allowed to visit the country, this year focused attention on the country's "alarmingly high frequency" of the use of the death penalty.

The resolution calls on Iran to stop a range of abuses including torture, gender discrimination and the targeting of activists and journalists. Iran's representative protested that the resolution doesn't acknowledge "positive developments" since President Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013.

The resolution on Syria condemns in the strongest terms Syrian authorities' violence against civilians since the country's conflict began in 2011. It also condemns in the strongest terms the Islamic State group's violence against civilians.

The affected countries and some of their allies have repeatedly argued against U.N. resolutions that target a single nation, calling it confrontational. A vote on a similar resolution on Myanmar's human rights has been delayed for further discussion.