Who is Behind the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea?
Everyone interested in the Korean peninsula and following a few Western media outlets has probably heard, these last days, of the Commission on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK – North Korea), created on March 21, 2013 by a resolution of the UN Council on Human Rights
Made public on Feb. 17, 2014, the conclusions of the Commission are devastating to the DPRK since the report calls for the appearance of the North Korean leaders before the International Criminal Court (ICC) - a highly unlikely event, however, given the opposition of China, a member of the UN Security Council.
Therefore, what is the real purpose of this report, conveniently published, as so often is the case when it comes to human rights in North Korea, at a moment of relative relaxation on the peninsula, and more than one month ahead of the original publication schedule?
In fact, the work of the Commission of Inquiry is very largely a sketch drawn from that carried out by a group of forty associations, foremost among which is the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (English, Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, HRNK).
The "investigations " of HRNK are highly controversial for their lack of reliability, HRNK is not a judicial organization which guarantees the professionalism and independence expected in a court, even a private court, but rather one of the many outpourings of the American neo-conservative sphere in the wake of the "Axis of Evil” speech of George W. Bush, which tirelessly seeks the collapse of regimes deemed enemies of the United States.
Having worked hand in hand with the HRNK, the UN Commission of Inquiry has consistently espoused its conclusions written in advance from it, and thus is not required to conduct face-to-face hearings or with people, the so called victims of acts committed by the North Korean authorities, nor to conduct an adversarial investigation with the North Korean authorities in question – as an uncontested judicial body would have done.
There are acknowledgments of fatherhood, which may be painful. The noisy satisfaction of HRNK -- a self-proclaimed American Association for the Defence of Human Rights in North Korea, in reality a neo-conservative lobby – at finding in the report of the Commission on Human Rights in DPRK its own work and conclusions is a damning admission that the UN Council of Human Rights, like its predecessor, an instrument in the game of states and lobbies.
The Council establishes itself as a tool of American power to justify, in the North Korean, case a sanctions regime whose populations are the prime victims, if not the only victims.
For, the argument of human rights is used only in one direction: to justify the use of all means, both legal and illegal, against some states whose main fault is not to yield to the US will, when other countries, Saudi Arabia, or yesterday, Pinochet's Chile, are conveniently exempt from criticism by the same defenders of human rights. Even if the practice is as old as diplomacy, it is curious to see media such as the French Communist daily, L'Humanité, do promotion of American neoconservatives, without any critical analysis of the reliability of sources.
Having fully achieved its objectives, HRNK no longer has to hide the efficacy of its lobbying. Let’s recall that one of the founders of HRNK, in 2001, is Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute, the neoconservative think tank which invented the concept of Axis of Evil dear to George W. Bush.
HRNK is co-directed by Suzanne Scholte, who is nostalgic for Ronald Reagan. She is a member of several neo-conservative organizations and founder of the Foundation for Defense Forum, an "NGO" funded until 2001 by Donald Rumsfeld.
The first Special Rapporteur for North Korea appointed by the Commission on Human Rights of the United Nations (predecessor of the Council of Human Rights of the United Nations), designated Vittit Muntarbhorn in 2004, who then became a prominent member of HRNK.
And it is HNRK which pleaded for years for the Council of Human Rights of the United Nations created the Commission of Inquiry for the Human Rights of the United Nations , to which he provided much of the material and recycled it without any adversarial scrutiny of their probative value. Even the name of the commission d is almost identical to that of the NGOs, introducing an intentional confusion on its official character that it wants to be given to the aforementioned NGO.
HNRK is the pivot of forty associations grouped in the International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea, ICNK ) . ICNK is very active in publishing new "revelations" about human rights in North Korea where one can dialogue with the DPRK could lead to out of its isolation , which is unacceptable for ICNK activists neoconservatives who have made their credo of the Axis of Evil by George W. Bush
One of ICNK operations occurred in spring 2012 , when there was political change in France : ICNK met with President François Hollande and Socialist leaders and diplomats close to the Socialist Party at the Quai d' Orsay, while quickly publishing two shocking books on human rights in North Korea whose promotion was particularly supported in our country: Camp Survivor #14: From North Korean Hell to Freedom and North Korea: Nine Years to Escape Hell. The objective was to forget the successful image of DPR Korea crated by the presentation in France of the Unhasu orchestra, and also to forestall any possible sympathy for the socialist government of North Korea after the change of leadership in 1981, following the election of François Mitterrand, just as the South Korean government had feared.
Coming back to the serious scientific gaps in the circumstances in which the inquiry was conducted, and in particular to the dubious testimony of Shin Dong-hyuk in Camp Survivor #14 the UN Commission contented itself merely to find fault with whatever was suggested in the line of the campaigners at ICNK and HNRK.
Konstantin Asmolov, Russian researcher at the Center for Korean Studies at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, makes the following observations:
"How does the commission work? The North Koreans did not let it enter. When it went to South Korea, instead of face-to-face conversations with the witnesses, it organized public hearings. At these public hearings there were 30 people who told all sorts of horror stories. There was Shin Dong-hyuk who does not speak with a North Korean accent, and whose hands are those of an intellectual rather than a person who lived in a camp all his life. The commission has not conducted enough private interviews in order to accuse the government [of North Korea] of war crimes and famines. It was a show. "
In an interview given to the daily La Croix , Jean-Vincent Brisset, a researcher at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS), also highlights the serious scientific shortcomings of the report published by the Commission on Human Rights in DPRK:
"This report raises serious questions about the scientific method. It has been prepared without going to North Korea, and solely on the basis of testimonies from people who say they were victims of the regime. This is a strictly conditional statement[ ... ]
“For example, concerning satellite images intended to prove the existence of the camps, I remember seeing a few years ago, a number of other satellite images that tended to prove that North Korea had a nuclear test and which were false, or were interpreted the wrong way. [ ... ]
“Note: what the UN report says is true enough as regards the abuses being committed. But to show only that side, without placing it back in a broader context, destroys the validity of the whole.
It should have spoken of how the United States has dealt with the problem of North Korea, how it used North Korea as a foil, how it prevented a number of achievements between North Korea and South Korea.... This is a thirty-year story! There is only one notion about North Korea, and the report is in line with this notion. This kind of report, when it is done in a very serious manner, may be useful because it helps solidify things that are in the nature of rumors. But this is rather a “mood“ report, which is made by interviewing only a part of the stakeholders. "
As a result, we share fully the finding that the report is not the result of a process aimed at change on the issue of human rights, since its efficacy would then have demanded the identification of discussion points with North Korean authorities on specific topics where constructive dialogue can be held.
This is, for example is what -- around the world, but not in North Korea -- the French Ambassador for Human Rights does, aware that no government in the world complies with good conduct lessons that a foreign power can direct to it, even if it be under the guise of the United Nations. This is also the approach adopted by the British government, when for the first time it supported the participation of a North Korean athlete at the Paralympics - with tangible results: the DPRK now more actively communicates its actions against disability in its various forms.
In the matter of human rights as diplomacy, the France-Korea Friendship Association believes this is no longer a time to practice a discriminatory policy of double standards against DPR Korea and the North Korean people, taken hostage by the lobbying of NGOs that are really disguised neo-conservative organizations.
The activities of these bogus humanitarians (for they have never helped the tiniest group of people in DPR Korea) have, for their sole purpose, the strengthening the strictest sanctions regime in the world - with all the negative consequences it has on the well-being of people, starting with the right to food security.