A U.N. Commission of Inquiry report in February detailed abuses in North Korea that it said were comparable to Nazi-era atrocities, and a U.N. committee last month urged the Security Council to consider referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) alleging crimes against humanity.
China, likely supported by Russia, would probably veto any referral to the international court based in The Hague, diplomats say, but it cannot block having the rights situation added to the council agenda.
Ten of the Security Council’s 15 members – Australia, Chile, France, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, South Korea, Rwanda, Britain and the United States – signed a letter drafted by Australia asking for the council to be briefed by U.N. officials on the human rights situation in North Korea.
“We are particularly concerned by the scale and gravity of human rights violations detailed in the comprehensive report” by the Commission of Inquiry, said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
Majority support is needed to add a new item to the U.N. Security Council agenda and such a move cannot be blocked by any of the five veto-wielding powers – the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China, diplomats said.
Once an issue is on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council it can be discussed by the body at any time.