Let us credit the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, that earlier this month she urged more attention to the hideous human rights abuses in North Korea. Expressing her concern that North Korea’s nuclear ventures and missile-testing projects might steal the spotlight from the “deplorable human rights situation” in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pillay decried such horrors as North Korea’s record of abducting citizens of other countries, and its gulag, with its system of torture, “summary executions, rape, slave labor, and forms of collective punishment that may amount to crimes against humanity.”
In a statement that has just been quoted by The Telegraph in an article on North Korea’s prison camps, Pillay said she believes the time has come for “an in-depth inquiry into one of the worst — but least understood and reported — human rights situations in the world,” an inquiry she said would be “fully justified and long overdue.”
By all means, let us hope that Pillay enlists the considerable resources of the UN in the worthy cause of exposing the human rights abuses in North Korea. There can’t be too much of that.
But let’s keep a few additional points in mind. First, the human rights abuses and the missile and nuclear proliferation habits are not actually separate issues. They are all part of the apparatus that sustains the totalitarian Kim regime, which depends on repression at home and proliferation, nuclear extortion and assorted criminal rackets abroad. What really has to go is the regime itself, and if the UN wants to make a useful contribution, it could start by kicking out North Korea — which in 1991 received a UN seat it did not deserve, as part of a bizarre UN effort to balance the admission that same year of a thriving and democratizing South Korea.