What keyword comes to mind when you think of North Korea, or to be exact, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? Probably nuclear weapons, Kim Jong-un, or maybe “a threat to the international society”. Most people acknowledge the fact North Korea disobeys UN’s claims or international law, but they do not know which laws they exactly violate. In this article, the missing knowledge of breached international laws will be introduced.
First of all, North Korea is violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). According to World Report 2015, North Koreans suffer from arrest, torture, detention without trial, prison camps if they showed any dislike toward their leader, Kim, or their past leaders.
Moreover, North Koreans are stripped from freedom of information. The government oppresses any organized political opposition, media, civil society organizations, et cetera. They cannot watch or collect any foreign programs or news reports.
Some people think North Korea actually does not have any obligations toward the world to not experiment with nuclear material because it withdrew from the Treaty of Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). However, it has breached three Security Council Resolutions addressed specifically to it and made under Chapter VII of the Charter. Several trade bans were imposed to stop North Korea’s constant testing. Nevertheless, the rogue country keeps on doing “its work”. North Korea has experimented with nuclear weapons 5 times. However, authorities suspect they have done much more.
Surprisingly, China is also breaking international law in the process of handling refugees from North Korea. Despite its obligation to protect refugees under the Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 protocol, China consider North Korean refugees as illegal migrants and repatriate them.
So far, we found three main breaches of international law and a little unknown violation made by China. Then what should be done? Or can anything really be done to stop North Korea’s dangerous game?
Chances North Korea will ever admit they violated these laws is very, very low. But it is not impossible. The leader Kim Jong-un is facing difficulty running his country due to natural disasters, poverty, and constant glares from USA, China, Japan, et cetera. In addition, recently North Korea signaled for help for flood relief. According to Bradley Williams, a international relations professor at City University in Hong Kong, “It’s not unheard of, but it’s rare for the North Korean government to make an open and public call for assistance.” North Korea even expressed its concern to South Korea and demanded help. Yet if it truly wants complete help, it will have to make up for it. During that process, leader Kim just might admit his faults.
Written by Je Yun Choi