The anticipated opening of the UN Human Rights Office took place in Seoul’s Jongo district today amid rising tensions between North and South Korea.
The new office is to function as “a field-based structure to strengthen monitoring and documentation of the situation of the human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” according to the 2014 report by the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on North Korea’s human rights violations.
The opening was attended by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
“When he wakes up in the morning, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un should realize that there is now a team of dedicated professional investigators working full-time to add to the factual record that will ultimately see him and his top officials brought before an international court,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch said in a press release.
North Korea has reacted strongly to the new office, calling it part of the smear campaign and even threatening to “ruthlessly punish” UN staff members.
“This is a heinous politically motivated provocation and an open declaration of war to block the improvement of inter-Korean relations and stifle the DPRK at any cost as it was an unpardonable challenge to the dignity and social system in the DPRK,” an article in North Korean newspaper Minju Joson published in early June read.
Speaking at a joint conference held by Dong-A Ilbo and Ilmin International Relations Center on “The Implications of the UN Human Rights office in Seoul,” Kim Sung-han, president of the Ilmin International Relations Research Institute welcomed the UN’s new presence in South Korea.
“This will bring about a game-changing effect to the human rights problems in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Kim said in comments carried by the Dong-A Ilbo.
The new office has already had a negative impact on relations between the two Koreas, with the DPRK withdrawing from the Gwangju Universiad Games scheduled to take place from July 3.
North Korea sent an email declaring that they will not be attending the games due to the establishment of the UN office. The officials at the Gwangju Universiad games have said that they will continue to wait for North Korea’s attendance in this event.
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Featured Image: Korea_Autumn_SkyPark_03 by KOREA.NET - Official page of the Republic of Korea on 2013-10-24 14:35:56