A South Korean Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday that North Korea would dispatch its top diplomat to a high-level U.N. human rights meeting next week, in an apparent attempt to counter international criticism of the country’s human rights record.
The South Korean official, who asked not to be identified, told the VOA Korean service that North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong was expected to speak at the meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which will convene March 2 in Geneva.
Ri would be the first North Korean foreign minister to address the council.
Recently, Pyongyang launched an aggressive campaign to cope with mounting international pressure over its treatment of its citizens. The call for improving human rights conditions in the communist country was prompted by a damning report by the U.N. Commission of Inquiry (COI), which accused North Korea of committing crimes again humanity.
Some analysts in Seoul say Pyongyang is likely to attempt to discredit the report and accuse Seoul of abusing human rights by attacking South Korea’s National Security Law. That 1948 law bans praise or support for North Korea. International human rights groups often have accused the South Korean government of using the law to suppress freedom of expression.
“They will repeat the regime’s argument that the COI report is based on fabricated information and will likely say the South Korean government is infringing upon its citizens’ human rights with the implementation of the National Security Law,” said Kim Soo-am, a North Korea expert at the Korean Institute for National Unification, South Korea’s state-run research institute.