United Nations: The European Union and Japan on Thursday brushed aside warnings from North Korea and presented a United Nations resolution calling for a probe of the Pyongyang regime for crimes against humanity.
The resolution was submitted to a UN General Assembly committee despite a major diplomatic push by North Korea to have key provisions scrapped, including one urging the Security Council to refer Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court.
"We cannot ignore the suffering of the people in DPRK (North Korea)," Italian counselor Emilia Gatto told the committee as she presented the resolution on behalf of the European Union and Japan.
While North Korea has offered to cooperate with the European Union and the United Nations, the human rights situation in the country raises "very serious concerns," she said.
"These developments are clearly outweighed by the overall human rights situation," Gatto told the committee.
"We regret to note that there have not been any substantive improvements on the ground."
The resolution, which is co-sponsored by 48 countries, condemns human rights abuses in North Korea and calls for a criminal investigation based on the findings of a UN inquiry that laid bare the brutality of the Pyongyang regime.
The inquiry, released earlier this year, is based on testimony of North Korean exiles and details a vast network of prison camps and documented cases of torture, rape, murder and enslavement.
Speaking to the committee, North Korea accused the European Union and Japan of "choosing the path of confrontation" and warned that any prospect for cooperation on human rights would be "lost for good" if the resolution went forward.
"If the European Union and Japan enforce their attempt to adopt the resolution against DPRK by pushing the confrontation, it will only bring unpredictable results and the European Union and Japan will have to take full responsibility for all consequences to be incurred," warned North Korean counselor Kim Song.
A vote of the committee is expected later this month before the measure goes to the full Assembly in December.
Last month, UN special rapporteur for North Korea Marzuki Darusman held a first meeting with the North Korean delegation to the United Nations in New York to discuss a possible visit.
But the North Koreans suggested that the visit would only be possible if the resolution was amended.
The resolution refers to the findings of the inquiry, noting that there are "reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in the DPRK, pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the state for decades."
It asks the UN Security Council to "take appropriate action to ensure accountability," including a possible referral of North Korea to the Hague-based ICC.