Thank you, Mr. President,

And like my colleagues, I would like to 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. And I'd also like to express our gratitude to Mr. Gumhyok Kim for sharing his story with us, and for his courage.

As the High Commissioner for Human Rights says: “Peace and human rights are intimately connected”. There can be no lasting peace without respect for human rights and the fight against impunity. His presentation was an impressive illustration of this link. This Council has also recognized in Resolution 2171 that whether or not human rights are respected enables the risks of conflict to be detected in advance and prevented.

Mr. President,

In 2014, the Commission of Inquiry concluded that serious and systematic violations of human rights and possible crimes against humanity were being committed in the DPRK. Ten years later the situation has deteriorated further.

The list of violations, such as arbitrary detention, torture and forced disappearance to camps of political prisoners, remains long. Strict control of the media and the enactment of repressive laws severely limit the freedom to seek, receive and impart information, regardless of borders. This repression, surveillance and coercion is worsening, creating a climate of fear with the aim of stifling fundamental freedoms.

This grave human rights situation in the DPRK threatens the stability and peace in the region and beyond. As the government invests more in military programs, the population is increasingly left behind. Limited public resources to meet the needs of citizens have a significant impact on the realization of their economic, social and cultural rights. Significant deprivation of food, healthcare, access to water and sanitation, and decent living conditions demonstrate a flagrant under-investment in the population. At the same time, exploitation of the workforce to finance militarization is endemic. This militarization weighs heavily on the population, particularly affecting women, children and the most vulnerable. There is a clear link between these human rights violations and the DPRK's pursuit of nuclear and ballistic weapons. 

For all these reasons, Switzerland remains concerned about the serious and systematic violations of human rights and possible crimes against humanity committed in the DPRK. 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 and to respect its obligations under international law, including human rights law. Furthermore, we remind the DPRK of its obligation to protect the human rights of its repatriated citizens, and urge all States to respect the principle of non-refoulement.

Mr. President,

Ten years after the report of the Commission of Inquiry, justice for the people of the DPRK remains elusive, and the culture of impunity persists. Accountability is essential to ensure the rule of law and justice for the victims. This requires criminal prosecutions, reparations, as well as non-judicial measures such as truth-seeking and institutional reforms, while placing victims at the heart of these processes. We urge the DPRK to respect its international obligations and investigate these crimes.

At the same time, this Council cannot forget the people of the DPRK, and must examine all the options at its disposal to ensure that human rights violations do not go unpunished.

We welcome the first signs of the DPRK opening its borders, but underline that this needs to go hand in hand with access to humanitarian aid for the population. For this, it is essential that humanitarian personnel have rapid, safe and unhindered access. This would also help to provide the population with a basis for improving their economic prospects.

Finally, Switzerland calls on the DPRK to enter into dialogue and cooperate with international mechanisms, and to grant access to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur and civil society organizations.

Thank you very much.

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