Tuesday, April 14, 2009

UN's Draft Tepid Response to N. Korean Missile Portends Rights Worsening

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, April 12 -- A week after North Korea shot its missile over Japan, the UN Security Council is poised to adopt a tepid Presidential Statement calling the "launch" a "contravention" -- and not violation -- of a 2006 Council resolution. Japan had said it could live with no less than a resolution, but it is not getting one, following Japan's back-down during Taro Aso's meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, and Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi Saturday in Pattaya, Thailand. 

  Even with these compromises, it's reported as of Sunday that while China having shown its power is on board, Libya might still abstain if not vote again and thus kibosh the presidential statement. Inner City Press has obtained a copy of the compromise draft and puts it online, here.

  Not mentioned in the draft or negotiations is the state of human rights in North Korea. Not mentioned within the UN is any reconsideration of the UN Development Program's decision to go back into the country. But now of record is Chinese President Hu Jintao's congratulations to Kim Jong-il on his 're-election," that "I believe that the fraternal Korean people will surely register steady fresh successes in the construction of Korean-style socialism... under the leadership... headed by you."

Across from UN on April 12, lone figure in Afghan-style burka, 
(c) M.Lee

   From Pyongyang come two indicative screeds, againstSouth Korea and the U.S.. Without a trace of irony, Kim Jong-il's official Korean Central News Agency KCNA states that "from the legal viewpoint, it is strictly prohibited to use a serious torture on a suspect in a bid to ascertain any criminal fact."

  Of South Korea, it syndicates that "If the Lee group persists in such reckless moves against the DPRK as now, it will be forced to follow in the disgraceful footsteps of traitor Kim Young Sam who was thrown into the dustbin of history... Minju Joson says that to do harm to the DPRK through the 'human rights' racket against it is a foolish and stupid act which can never be realized. The Lee group should bear in mind that the said racket is as adventurous an act as lifting the axe to drop it on its own foot."

   The watering down of the Council's response to the missile firing is hardly likely to lead to improvements in human rights and civil liberties performance.

Looking up First Avenue, burka-ed figure with back to UN, (c) M.Lee

    Sunday in front of the UN, a figure dressed in a light blue, Afghan - style burka stood across First Avenue. Tourists took pictures. The building was near empty, Ban Ki-moon nowhere in sight. The meeting to adopt the draft so tepid on Taepodong -- Tepidong -- is slated for Monday afternoon.

  Meanwhile, after UN spokesperson Michele Montas on Thursday answered Inner City Press' question of the previous day, whether North Korea had made any filings under the Convention on the Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space. No, Ms. Montas said, no filings by North Korea.

  Click here for a new YouTube video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

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