China fails to stop U.N. meeting on North Korea human rights abuses

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 11, 2017 10:36 AM

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - China failed on Monday to stop the fourth annual United Nations Security Council meeting on human rights abuses in North Korea, saying it was not the right forum to discuss the issue and warning that it could further escalate tensions in the region.

For the fourth time, China unsuccessfully tried to stop the public meeting by calling a procedural vote. A minimum of nine votes are needed to win such a vote and China, Russia, the United States, Britain and France cannot wield their vetoes.

Ten members voted in favor of holding the meeting, China, Russia and Bolivia voted against and Egypt and Ethiopia abstained.

"Council members and relevant parties should engage themselves with finding ways to ease tensions on the Peninsula. They should avoid mutual provocation and words or actions that might further escalate the situation," China's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Wu Haitao told the council before the vote.

"(The) council's discussion of the human rights issue in the DPRK (North Korea) runs counter to the above objective and is counter productive," he said.

A landmark 2014 U.N. report on North Korean human rights concluded that North Korean security chiefs - and possibly leader Kim Jong Un himself - should face justice for overseeing a state-controlled system of Nazi-style atrocities.

Last year, the United States angered North Korea by blacklisting its leader Kim for human rights abuses.

"We continue to think there's a separation between peace and security and human rights and there's not," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Security Council. "Prevention also includes human rights and being able to call out countries when they do abuses like this."

North Korea has repeatedly rejected accusations of human rights abuses and blames sanctions for a dire humanitarian situation. Pyongyang has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missiles and nuclear programs.

The Security Council is due to hold a ministerial meeting on North Korea's nuclear and missiles programs on Friday.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Susan Thomas)