We thank the United States and Albania for convening this meeting as well as the Special Rapporteur, Ms. Salmón, the Chief of the Prevention and Sustaining Peace Section at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Turpin, as well as Mr Joseph Kim, Refugee from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, for their presentations.
Ten years have passed since the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was established. In its report, which finds systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations, the Commission stressed that (and I quote) "The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world" (end of quote). To date, there has been no improvement. The policy choices remain the same and the institutions and culture of impunity that lie at the heart of these acts remain in place.
Switzerland remains concerned about the gross and systematic human rights violations in the DPRK. These include, among others, arbitrary detention, forced labour in penitentiary centers and labour camps, torture, executions and enforced disappearances. These violations may amount to crimes against humanity or other international crimes.
We are concerned about the complete absence of the rule of law, independent media, and a free civil society. We are also concerned about the plight of Korean women and girls, who are often victims of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and gender-based violence.
Human rights are universal and indivisible. Switzerland reiterates its call on the DPRK to fully assume its responsibilities in this regard and to cooperate with international mechanisms, in particular with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur.
We underline that the perpetrators of human rights violations must be brought to justice. Switzerland deplores the lack of accountability at the national level in the DPRK and calls for all options to be examined to ensure that these violations do not go unpunished.
The Security Council cannot remain inactive on these issues, as they affect its responsibility for international peace and security. The development of weapons of mass destruction remains possible only at the cost of serious human rights violations and a precarious humanitarian situation. The link is unequivocal: Large resources are allocated to the expensive nuclear program, even in times of famine. The production of these resources involves human rights violations.
It is therefore important that the Security Council addresses the situation in the DPRK in a comprehensive manner. Switzerland continues to support a formal Security Council debate on the human rights situation in the DPRK.
Despite the political tensions, the international community must address the humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the disproportionate self-isolation imposed by the authorities in the wake of the pandemic. Malnutrition among the vulnerable population has further worsened, as has the right of access to a health system.
Switzerland calls on the DPRK government to guarantee full and unhindered access to humanitarian actors in accordance with humanitarian principles. The sanctions regime provides an exemption system that we are committed to maintaining and improving.
We will not abandon the people of the DPRK. Switzerland is ready to work with all actors to improve respect for human rights in the DPRK. Protecting human rights and ending impunity in the DPRK are essential to ensure stability and lasting peace in the region.