Human rights organizations are supporting the new international sanctions imposed on North Korea to restrict its nuclear program, even though the economic measures could make life more difficult for many people in the country who already live on the margins of poverty.
The United States and China collaborated on developing the international sanctions, and Beijing most likely opposed any focus on human rights violations, given its own record of, according to critics, unlawful harassment, imprisonment and torture.
Workers in the mining industry will likely suffer from the U.N. ban on the export of North Korean minerals. The U.S. unilateral sanctions could also target anyone connected to the North Korean labor export program that earns billions of dollars, most of which goes to the state.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a February report that the North Korean people are already suffering a significant food shortage. Human rights advocates support providing aid and assistance to innocent people in North Korea caught in the middle of this international standoff.
But the tighter sanctions are enforced, the more likely it is that ordinary North Koreans will experience greater economic pain than will Kim Jong Un or the well-to-do elites in Pyongyang. But that is a risk that even some human rights advocates are willing to take to end repression in North Korea and to make its leaders accountable.