Madam President,

We thank the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Türk, and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, Ms Salmón, for their presentations. We also welcome the participation of Mr Ilhyeok Kim, and his brave account.

Each month throughout this year, this Council has had to meet to address the issue of the DPRK's nuclear and ballistic missile programme. And rightly so, given the threat they pose to peace and security.

On the other hand, it has been almost six years since this Council formally discussed human rights in the DPRK. Indeed, today's meeting comes at just the right time. We have just heard that serious and systematic violations of human rights are continuing in the DPRK. That some violations could even constitute crimes against humanity. And we know that the resources allocated to the costly military and nuclear programmes leave a cruel hole in the capacity to meet the needs of the population. A population that, let's not forget, is facing increased food insecurity and impoverishment. And their situation has been made even worse by the increased isolation caused by the pandemic. In addition to the government's political choices, this is also due to the lack of rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian actors, which must be guaranteed.

In the DPRK, surveillance, coercion, fear and punishment are used to stifle freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. The list of human rights violations in the DPRK is long. Torture, arbitrary detention and the forced removal of political prisoners to camps are just a few examples of serious and systematic violations. Faced with this gloomy picture, we recall that human rights are universal, indivisible and inalienable. We also recall the DPRK's obligation to put an immediate end to all violations, as well as its obligations under international human rights law. In particular, it has ratified the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

While every violation of human rights requires a response, the situation of Korean women and girls is also a cause for concern. As mentioned by the Special Rapporteur, there is a need for effective protection of victims and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as a policy of prevention. This is in the interest of every society. Finally, the DPRK is also obliged to respect the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.


Madam President,

Only justice and accountability can prevent the recurrence of such violations. The fight against impunity for serious human rights violations is therefore central. The perpetrators of human rights violations must be held accountable for their actions. We propose that this Council examine all the options at its disposal to ensure that these violations do not go unpunished.

Finally, in order to respond to human rights challenges, we need credible information. This is why we appreciate the efforts of all those, including civil society, who are conducting research on this issue. We also call on the government of the DPRK to grant access to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur.

Madam President,

The grave human rights situation in the DPRK threatens stability and peace in the region and beyond. This Council cannot therefore forget the people of the DPRK and must work for positive and lasting change for the Korean people. Switzerland encourages Member States to continue to engage the DPRK on the issue of human rights. And it calls on the DPRK to enter into dialogue and cooperate with international mechanisms.


I thank you.