UN Votes on North Korea With Relation to the ICC
On November 11th, 2014, I wrote about North Korea with regards to human rights issues. The United Nations has discussed the possibility of sending North Korea to the International Criminal Court. And just recently, the United Nations General Assembly voted to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court based on crimes against humanity committed in the country. With regards to the vote, it was reported that 116 states votes for the measure, with twenty opposed, and 53 states abstaining.
However, it has to be remembered that United Nations General Assembly resolutions are non-biding. Nonetheless, they can, as they are, urge the United Nations Security Council to take further actions against North Korea. And the resolution does as much, asking not only for a case against the North Korean regime in the International Criminal Court, but also the possibly of UN sanctions (CNN, 2014) (which can be implemented by the UNSC).
This vote is a very important and necessary development with regards to the protection of human rights. North Korea is believed to have committed grave human rights violations, and the ICC is one place that can help shed more light onto what happened, as well as hold leaders accountable for their actions.
It remains to be seen whether the United Nations Security Council will take further actions against North Korea. Within the UNSC, there are 15 states, five of which are permanent members (US, UK, France, China, and Russia), and a veto from any of the “P5” would stop any action against a country. However, because of the questions about the limited effect that sanctions could have against the regime (and concerns about the indirect effects on civilians), the ICC may be the best option. However, it will be difficult to arrest North Korean leaders to be held at the court.
Therefore, although some may think it is largely symbolic, the ICC has been able to challenge issues of domestic rights violations, breaking traditional notions of sovereignty regardless of domestic action. The mere fact that the ICC has been able to hold leaders accountable for their actions is remarkable, and hopefully can be used as an effective tool against North Korea’s regime, and hopefully these developments will lead to the regime ending human rights abuses.