Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Commissioners of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea 

The United Nations Human Rights Council has established a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.


MANDATE

On 21 March 2013, at its 22nd session, the United Nations Human Rights Council established the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Resolution A/HRC/RES/22/13 mandates the body to investigate the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, with a view to ensuring full accountability, in particular for violations which may amount to crimes against humanity.

Among the violations to be investigated are those pertaining to the right to food, those associated with prison camps, torture and inhuman treatment, arbitrary detention, discrimination, freedom of expression, the right to life, freedom of movement, and enforced disappearances, including in the form of abductions of nationals of other States. 

In addition to establishing the Commission of Inquiry for one year, the resolution also authorized a one-year extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a post that was created in 2004 and currently filled by Mr. Darusman.

Through this decision the Council also urged the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to ensure full, rapid and unimpeded access of humanitarian assistance and for the Government to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and the commission of inquiry.

The same resolution requested that the commission present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-fourth session in September 2013 and to the General Assembly at its sixty-eight session, and a written report to the Council at its twenty-fifth session in March 2014.

From 1 to 5 July 2013, the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the DPRK began its operations in Geneva with key meetings that included a number of diplomatic missions, UN agencies, scholars and NGOs. The Commissioners also discussed the strategy, methodology and investigative approach they will employ during their mandate.  They have written twice to DPRK representatives in Geneva to “seek engagement in a spirit of co-operation and transparency”. The response has so far been negative, but the Commissioners intend to continue to reach out to the Government of the DPRK and to seek its cooperation, given assurances that representatives of DPRK have previously given to the Human Rights Council that the DPRK “prioritizes human rights and honours the UN Charter and international human rights instruments.”

The Commission of Inquiry is mandated to look into “systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights” in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in particular:

  • Violations of the right to food,
  • Violations associated with prison camps,
  • Torture and inhuman treatment,
  • Arbitrary detention,
  • Discrimination,
  • Violations of freedom of expression,
  • Violations of the right to life,
  • Violations of freedom of movement, and
  • Enforced disappearances, including in the form of abductions of nationals of other States.

The COI will conduct its investigation with a view to ensuring full institutional and personal accountability, in particular where violations may amount to crimes against humanity.

The COI will present a written report with its findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in March 2014. It will provide oral updates on its work to the Human Rights Council in September 2013 and to the General Assembly in October 2013.

Methods of work

The Commission of Inquiry will systematically collect and assess relevant information for its investigation and document victims’ testimonies, accounts of survivors and witnesses, including, where appropriate, through public hearings.

The Commission of Inquiry will conduct its investigation with a view to ensuring full institutional and personal accountability, in particular where violations may amount to crimes against humanity.

In carrying out its work, the Commission of Inquiry and its Secretariat staff will be guided by the principles of independence, impartiality, objectivity, transparency, integrity and the principle of “do no harm”, including in relation to guarantees of confidentiality and the protection of victims and witnesses.
The COI will collect and document victims’ testimonies and the accounts of survivors, witnesses and perpetrators, including, where appropriate, through public hearings.

It will seek the full cooperation of the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and has issued a request to visit the country.

The COI will seek to develop regular dialogue and cooperation with the United Nations, including its specialized agencies, regional intergovernmental organizations, mandate holders, interested institutions and independent experts and non-governmental organizations.

Any state, individual or organisation can submit information in writing to the Commission (see contact details below).

In carrying out its work, the COI and its Secretariat staff will be guided by the principles of independence, impartiality, objectivity, transparency, integrity and the principle of “do no harm”, including in relation to guarantees of confidentiality and the protection of victims and witnesses.

Information Sheet
EnglishJapanese | Korean (PDF)


CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

The Commission of Inquiry will have to formally submit its report well ahead of the March 2014 session of the Human Rights Council. In order to meaningfully address all the issues shared with the Commission of Inquiry, the Commission of Inquiry will receive information until 3 November 2013.

The Commission of Inquiry invites individuals, groups and organizations to submit information and documentation on the situation of human rights in the DPRK (for the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry, please see attached information).

Procedure for submissions:

  • Submissions should be sent in a written form and must include the contact details for the author(s) of the submission.
  • The Commission of Inquiry will receive submissions until 3 November 2013, midnight Geneva time.
  • Submissions may be sent:

By email to:  coidprksubmissions@ohchr.org
By post to: Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
UNOG-OHCHR, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

  • Authors should specify if the submissions – or parts of them - should be treated confidentially by the Commission of Inquiry.

Due to resource and time constraints, the Commission of Inquiry will accept information and documentation in English only. Information in Korean and Japanese not exceeding more than five (5) pages will also be accepted when submitting parties do not have the capacity to provide an English translation.


PUBLIC HEARINGS

MEMBERS

On 7 May 2013, the President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Remigiusz A. Henczel (Poland), announced the appointment of Michael Donald Kirby (Australia) and Sonja Biserko (Serbia) who will join Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia), the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to serve as the members of the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the DPRK. Mr. Kirby will serve as Chair of the three-person commission.  The Commission of Inquiry is supported by a team of nine experienced human rights officials comprising the Secretariat.

The three Commissioners serve in a non-remunerated independent expert capacity.


DOCUMENTATION

Report of the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea -­ A/HRC/25/63
36 pages
Arabic | Chinese | EnglishFrench | Russian | Spanish
For additional translations (Korean, Japanese), please see the website of OHCHR (Seoul).

Full report and supporting documentation

Report of the detailed findings of the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea -­A/HRC/25/CRP.1
372 pages
English
 For additional translations (Korean, Japanese), please see the website of OHCHR (Seoul).

Questions and Answers on the Report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
17 February 2014
English

Oral Update by Mr. Michael Kirby, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights at the 68th session of the General Assembly
29 October 2013
English

Oral Update by Mr. Michael Kirby, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights at the HRC 24th session
17 September 2013

English

Updated Questions and Answers
16 September 2013
English

Resolution adopted at HRC 22nd regular session (Adopted without a vote)
21 March 2013 - A/HRC/RES/22/13
EFSACR


PRESS RELEASES

Pillay calls for urgent action on “historic” DPRK report
18 February 2014
English

Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
18 February 2014
English

North Korea: UN Commission documents wide-ranging and ongoing crimes against humanity, urges referral to ICC
17 February 2014
English
Video of Geneva Press Conference, 17 February 2014

Report of Commission of Inquiry on Democratic People's Republic of Korea to go public on 17 February
11 February 2014
English

Concludes Washington Visit, heads towards analysis of testimony and starts considering conclusions
1 November 2013
English

Media Events in Washington DC, 30 October-1 November 2013
28 October 2013
English
Video of New York Press Conference, 29 October 2013

UN human rights investigators on DPRK hear shocking testimonies in London
25 October 2013
English

Media Events in London, 23-24 October 2013
21 October 2013
English

UN Commission on Democratic People's Republic of Korea to hold public hearings in the United Kingdom and United States
17 October 2013
English
Video of Geneva Press Conference, 17 September 2013

Mission to Tokyo of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Aug 28-31, 2013
27 August 2013
English
Audio of Seoul Press Conference, 27 August 2013
Audio of Tokyo Press Conference, 31 August 2013

Dramatic DPRK hearings
26 August 2013
English

UN inquiry on human rights in North Korea set to begin hearings in Japan
23 August 2013
English

Questions and answers on the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
16 August 2013
English

UN panel set to begin hearings into human rights in Democratic People's Republic of Korea
16 August 2013
English

UN Commission of Inquiry on North Korea begins operations -
5 July 2013
English | Chinese

Council President appoints Members of Commission of Inquiry on the Democratic People’s Republic in Korea -
7 May 2013
English | Chinese

Council establishes Commission of Inquiry to investigate Human Rights Violations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea -
21 March 2013
English | Chinese


STATEMENTS

FEATURE STORIES


Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: crimes against humanity revealed
During the UN Human Rights Council Session in Geneva, Switzerland, the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea presented its report on an array of systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations, some amounting to crimes against humanity, being committed by the DPRK.
02-04-2014
“Unspeakable atrocities” reported by the UN Inquiry into the Human Rights Situation in North Korea
The chair of the UN inquiry investigating human rights in North Korea has called on the global community to respond to a situation which indicates a large-scale pattern of abuse that may constitute systematic and gross human rights violations.
17-09-2013

CONTACT

An international secretariat of United Nations staff provides support to the COI. For any query relating to the COI or to provide information relevant to its mandate, please write to:
coidprksubmissions@ohchr.org

or

Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
OHCHR
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva
Switzerland

For media query:
coidprkmedia@ohchr.org


DISCLAIMER

Any links to external web pages are provided for informational purposes only, without implying that the Commission of Inquiry endorses their content or the organisations and persons providing it. The Commission of Inquiry also does not attest to the correctness, factuality, appropriateness, or legality of such external contents.

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