Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Truth behind DPRK rights report

By Wang Hui (China Daily) Updated: 2014-02-24 08:11

The final report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, issued on Feb 17, says mass crimes against humanity are being committed in the country. The UN-mandated COI report on the DPRK has evoked reactions from many countries.

The reactions of the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea are somewhat similar. The US State Department issued a statement, saying Washington "welcomes and supports" the COI report because it reflects the international community's view that the human rights situation in the DPRK is among the worst in the world. Japan said it would work actively with its partners to address human rights issues in the DPRK. And although the ROK's reaction was low key, it supported the report.

The report, however, is not without problems. Its first problem is credibility. Investigations were conducted and evidence was gathered outside the DPRK. The COI prepared the report on the basis of witnesses' testimonies beyond the borders of the DPRK. In the absence of on-site investigations, how could the COI come to its conclusion? True, the report cites many "living examples", but more hard evidence is needed to determine whether they are widespread in the country.

Second, the timing and purpose of the report raise questions vis-a-vis DPRK leader Kim Jong-un. Ever since Kim Jong-un's father Kim Jong-il assumed power the US has been formulating its DPRK policy based on the assumption that the country is about to collapse. The signing of the Agreed Framework during the term of former US president Bill Clinton was part of that policy. But even after the death of Kim Jong-il and two years into Kim Jong-un's leadership, the DPRK shows no obvious signs of collapse.

Perhaps the failure of its policy is forcing the US to use the DPRK's human rights record to influence global public opinion against Kim Jong-un's leadership. Given the DPRK's stance on the nuclear issue, the US-led West wants to use human rights to deal a heavy blow to the Kim Jong-un government. But going by the existing situation, this does not seem possible.

Third, Washington will use the human rights issue to further intervene in the DPRK's affairs. In 2009, the US announced its "return to Asia" policy and later upgraded it to a strategy for rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific. One of the reasons cited by the US for its strategy was the DPRK nuclear issue. Now the US can cite another reason, the DPRK's human rights issue, for its rebalancing strategy and involvement in East Asian affairs.

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Most Viewed Today's Top News
New type of urbanization is in the details