MISERY AND TERROR : Systematic Violations of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in North Korea


The FIDH issues today a report entitled “Misery and terror: systematic violations of economic, social and cultural rights in North Korea”. The report was drafted for submission to the UN Committee on economic social and cultural rights on North Korea, in November.

The FIDH report documents the discriminatory class policy of the North-Korean authorities in the access to education, housing, the allocation of jobs and health services. The report also evidences that the right to form independent trade unions and to collective bargaining are inexistent while there is no right to strike. Last but not least, the report documents significant violations of the right to food. It concludes to very serious breaches of several provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

« The official State report presented to the UN by North Korea presents an idyllic picture of the situation on the ground. Even when answering the questions of the UN experts, the North Korean delegation denied any violation of economic and social rights in North Korea : it was like speaking to a wall », said Sidiki KABA, President of the FIDH.

There are different assessments of the number of victims of the major floods in August 1995. Certain sources estimate that three million people died of starvation or related diseases between 1995 and 1998. On 30 October 2003, the UNDP reported that more than a quarter of the population is malnourished and will need aid in 2004. The authorities are partly responsible for this continuous famine. Their policy of soil exploitation contributed to the flood and distribution of international humanitarian aid is done in a discriminatory manner, the army being served first instead of the more vulnerable segments of the population.

The UN Committee adopted a broad range of recommendations, notably with regard to the rights of women, the distribution of food, HIV-AIDS’ prevention and trade union rights. It also specifies that it is ready to visit North Korea to ascertain the situation of economic, social and cultural rights in the country.

The FIDH calls the North Korean authorities to allow such a visit as soon as possible and more generally to open its doors to all UN special mechanisms as well as to human rights NGOs.

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