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. These will include: 

  • 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.

Its mandate is based on Human Rights Council Resolution 22/13, adopted on 21 March 2013.

Methods of work

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.

Members of the COI

The Human Rights Council designated its Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mr. Marzuki Darusman, to be a member of the COI.  The other two members, who were appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, are Mr. Michael Kirby (Chairperson of the COI) and Ms. Sonja Biserko.

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

Secretariat and 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:



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

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