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Use disability convention to boost human rights in North Korea – UN expert

Korean

GENEVA (20 December 2016) – The Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) should use the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as an opportunity to implement the country’s human rights obligations, United Nations expert Tomás OJEA QUINTANA has urged. 

The Convention, which guarantees all people with disabilities full human rights without discrimination, was ratified by the DPRK on 6 December – 10 years after being adopted by the UN General Assembly.

“This initiative is a very useful step forward in the promotion and protection of all human rights in the DPRK and the implementation of recommendations from the latest Universal Periodic Review*,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK.

“Ratification of the Convention will help the country address prejudice against people with physical, mental, sensory or other impairments. It should also serve to address other forms of discrimination to which certain groups may be subjected based on any other attribute,” he added.

Mr. OJEA QUINTANA stressed that it was now important for the government in Pyongyang to implement the treaty in full consultation with people with disabilities, and to allow technical experts to visit the country. “The ratification should also be used as an opportunity for the country to move forward in the implementation of the other human rights treaties it has ratified, and for it to engage more with human rights mechanisms,” he added.

The Convention is the fifth major human rights treaty ratified by the DPRK. Others include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1981); the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990); and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (2001).

Earlier this year, the DPRK submitted periodic state reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child and to the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.

(*) The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States by other States, in order to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur. While ensuring equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed, the UPR provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. The UPR process reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Mr. Tomás OJEA QUINTANA (Argentina) was designated as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK by the UN Human Rights Council in 2016. Mr. Ojea Quintana, a lawyer with more than 20 years of experience in human rights, worked for the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, and represented the Argentinian NGO “Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo” in cases concerning child abduction during the military regime. He is a former Head of OHCHR human rights programme in Bolivia, and served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar from 2008 to 2014. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/KP/Pages/SRDPRKorea.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – DPRK: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/KPIndex.aspx

OHCHR Seoul Office: http://seoul.ohchr.org/EN/Pages/HOME.aspx

For additional information and media requests, please contact in English, Tarek Cheniti    (+82 2 725 3522 / tcheniti@ohchr.org) or in Korean, YounKyo Ahn (+82 2 725 3523 / yahn@ohchr.org)

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Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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