China may put brakes on efforts to take action on North Korean human rightsUpdated: 2014-02-18 PM 2:46:25 (KST)
Although the atrocities laid out in the UN report on the human rights abuses in North Korea have been in the public domain for years, the report is being seen as a renewed call to action.
The chairman of the UN inquiry, Michael Kirby, said the report "calls for attention from the international community," highlighting the deep regret that was felt after the atrocities of the Second World War came to light.
"If only we had known that. Well now, the international community does know, the international community will know. There will be no excusing a failure of action because we didn't know. We do know."
The inquiry, conducted by the panel of experts of the UN's Human Rights Council, is regarded as the highest-profile attempt by the international community to investigate the abuses in the reclusive state and the evidence gathered could lay a foundation for future claims in the International Criminal Court.
The UN Human Rights Council is expected to adopt a resolution on the issue when the panel formally presents its findings next month.
Yet it remains unclear what actions will follow.
China, North Korea's long-time ally, will likely block attempts to refer the North to the ICC, using its power as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
As expected, the report has raised questions about its possible impact on relations between North and South Korea.
Seoul has welcomed the UN's findings and vowed to cooperate with the international community to improve the human rights situation in the North.
North Korea, on the other hand, has flatly rejected the report, saying it will deal strongly with any outside attempts to topple the North Korean regime.
The two Koreas made a breakthrough during high-level talks held last week to revive reunions for families separated by the Korean War.
The first round of the reunions scheduled to take place this week.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.
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