As expected, China on Monday dismissed a UN report alleging North Korea has committed crimes against humanity, effectively confirming the fears of human rights advocates that Beijing will shield its ally from international prosecution.
Chen Chuandong, a counselor at China’s mission in Geneva, told the UN Human Rights Council that the independent commission of inquiry had made unfounded accusations and recommendations that were ”divorced from reality”.
”The inability of the commission to get support and co-operation from the country concerned makes it impossible for the commission to carry out its mandate in an impartial, objective and effective manner,” Mr Chen said.
Mr Chen said the report was based on information and interviews collected outside the country, without first-hand information. ”The question then arises: can such an inquiry be truly credible?”
China, as a member of the UN Security Council, would have the power to veto any move to refer North Korea to the Hague-based ICC. Diplomats had already warned China was likely to object to the report, which also criticized Beijing for its treatment of North Korean defectors.
But Michael Kirby, chief author of the report, said he was convinced North Korea’s leadership would eventually face the ICC for crimes documented in the commission’s archives, which hold the testimonies of hundreds of witnesses. ”I have lived long enough to see things that looked impossible come to full fruit,” he told a news conference. ”The independence of East Timor, the independence of the Baltic states and other steps following the fall of the Berlin Wall are all indications that things can happen that don’t look certain now. They won’t meet media deadlines but they will occur.”
Shin Dong Hyuk, a North Korean born in a political prison camp who escaped after his mother and brother were executed, told Reuters he had expected China to reject the report. But the ”big purpose” of establishing the inquiry was to get the report discussed at the UN Security Council, he said.