OHCHR Democratic People’s Republic of Korea accountability project
On 28 March 2014, at its 25th session, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 25/25 in response to the Report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which found that systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and were being committed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
In many instances, the violations found entailed crimes against humanity based on State policies. This resolution requested the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to follow-up on the recommendations made by the commission of inquiry in its report including through the “…establishment of a field-based structure to strengthen monitoring and documentation of the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to ensure accountability, to enhance engagement and capacity-building with the Governments of all States concerned, civil society and other stakeholders, and to maintain visibility of the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including through sustained communications, advocacy and outreach initiatives”. The OHCHR field-based structure in Seoul was established in June 2015.
On 24 March 2017, at its 34th session, the Human Rights Council through resolution 34/24, decided to strengthen the capacity of the OHCHR, including its field-based structure in Seoul, for two years, to allow for the implementation of relevant recommendations made by the group of independent experts on accountability in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in its report (A/HRC/34/66/Add.1). The resolution specifically called for “strengthening current monitoring and documentation efforts, establishing a central information and evidence repository, and having experts in legal accountability assess all information and testimonies with a view to developing possible strategies to be used in any future accountability process.”
In accordance with this mandate, a dedicated the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea accountability project was set up with staff in its field based-structure in Seoul and in Geneva to strengthen the Office’s ongoing work on promoting accountability in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The Human Rights Council extended this strengthened mandate for an additional two years in March 2019 (resolution 40/20) and in March 2021 (resolution 46/17). In March 2021, the Council also requested the High Commissioner “to include additional options for strengthening, institutionalizing and further advancing work on accountability in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in the report to be submitted to the Human Rights Council at its fifty-second session”; and “to organize a series of consultations and outreach activities with victims, affected communities and other relevant stakeholders with a view to including their views into avenues for accountability.”
The High Commissioner presented an update on this work at the 46th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2021 (A/HRC/46/52). A full report on the Office’s work on accountability in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2023 during the 52nd session, during which the Council extended this mandate for a further two years (A/HRC/52/L.9) and requested the High Commissioner to provide an oral update on the progress made in this regard to the Human Rights Council at its fifty-fifth session, and to submit a full report on the implementation of the recommendations to the Council at its fifty-eighth session.
- Commission of Inquiry – 2013/2014
- Field-based structure in Seoul
- Independent experts’ report on accountability (A/HRC/34/66/Add.1)