“The Dark Abyss”: Human rights and political reality in North Korea

The Hon Michael Kirby AC delivered an address to the AHRCentre on 31 July 2014 on the report of the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights Violations in North Korea (DPRK) explaining the establishment, methodology, findings and follow-up to the COI Report.

To download a copy of his presentation, click here.

The paper outlines the circumstances that led to the establishment of the COI on DPRK.  It recounts the mandate given to the COI by the United Nations Human Rights Council; the appointments of the members; the timeline for reporting and the distinctive methodology adopted – including public hearings.  It explains the principal conclusions of the COI report, its release and the strong responses of the United Nations institutions.  It then addresses doubts and criticisms that have been raised concerning the approach of the COI.  It seeks to answer contentions that the COI should have been more conciliatory; more focused on the nuclear priority; more concerned about reunification; more aware of the dangers of futility and the peril of geopolitical inaction.  The author seeks to respond to, and answer, these contentions.