US blasts China for trying to ‘shield’ North Korea at UN meeting | United Nations News
US ambassador slams Security Council members for blocking webcast on alleged North Korean abuses
The United States has denounced members of the United Nations Security Council for trying to shield North Korea from public scrutiny.
“Some council members are all too willing to shield the regime from accountability,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said at a council meeting on Friday.
Earlier, China tried to block a live online broadcast of an informal Security Council meeting to discuss North Korea’s alleged human rights abuses.
Each of the 15 members of the Security Council must agree before informal talks are broadcast live. But China — North Korea’s key ally in the region — raised a rare objection, though the public could still attend the meeting in person.
This prompted a reprimand from the US mission to the United Nations, which previously clashed over human rights discussions with China and Russia, another member of the Security Council.
“We will continue to speak out against North Korea’s human rights abuses and threats to world peace,” the US mission tweeted. “They may be able to turn off the voices of the people of North Korea, but they can’t turn off our voices.”
Russia and China have opposed a Security Council discussion of human rights, citing the existence of another UN council dedicated to the issue.
Chinese diplomat Xing Jisheng, who heads the country’s representation to the United Nations, specifically described Friday’s meeting as “not at all constructive” amid rising tensions in the Pacific region.
North Korea said on Friday that the previous day’s launch of an ICBM was intended to “instill fear in the enemy” and be led by Kim Jong Un.
The isolated communist state has launched four missiles in about a week, citing “open hostility” from the US and its allies in the region.
North Korea conducted the launches as South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met in Tokyo to improve relations between their two countries. The US and its allies have also conducted military exercises in the region.
“Rather than easing tensions,” Xing said of Friday’s meeting, “it may rather exacerbate the conflict and is therefore an irresponsible move.”
He also dismissed the suggestion to broadcast the sessions on the UN’s WebTV platform as “a waste of UN resources”.
Russian diplomat Stepan Kuzmenkov reiterated this criticism in his statement to the Security Council, accusing the US of using human rights as a political tool. Russia had previously been suspended by the UN Human Rights Council over alleged human rights violations in Ukraine.
“The West’s feigned hypocritical concerns about human rights in North Korea deceives no one,” Kuzmenkov said. “Everyone knows full well that the US uses human rights to settle scores with governments it doesn’t like.”
The United States co-hosted Friday’s informal meeting with Albania. During her trial, Thomas-Greenfield called on the Security Council to “fulfill its obligation to address North Korea’s grave human rights abuses,” which she said “endanger our collective peace and security.”
The country has been under UN sanctions since 2006 because of its nuclear and missile programs.
“North Korea chose ammunition over food, missiles over people,” Thomas-Greenfield later tweeted. “In doing so, she threatened the global non-proliferation regime.”
The US ambassador also shared with the council stories of North Koreans who have fled their country fearing persecution.
A woman, she said, was forced to watch as a mother was shot dead in front of her husband and four-year-old child. Another had previously been captured twice attempting to escape.
“The extraordinary thing was that she chose to flee a third time to save her sons,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “But she was carrying a poison pill because if it failed, she would rather die than be locked up and tortured again.”
North Korea has long denied human rights abuses against its people and did not attend Friday’s meeting. But Thomas-Greenfield argued for the importance of sharing defectors’ stories before the council.
“For every terrible story we hear, there are countless stories we will never hear, that will never see the light of day. Of course that’s intentional,” she said.
“The regime in Pyongyang is doing everything in its power to hide its atrocities from the outside world. But they failed again and again.”
The Security Council will discuss North Korea’s missile launches at a formal meeting on Monday.