Pyongyang (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The General Assembly Human Rights Committee has called for the Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court over its human rights record.
The non-binding resolution passed by a resounding vote of 111 to 19 with 55 abstentions. Now it will go to the full General Assembly for a vote next month to be effective.
Through its official in charge of UN affairs and human rights, Cho Myong-nam, North Korea reacted immediately by saying that it now felt compelled "not to refrain any further from conducting nuclear tests."
The UN report on human rights in Korea report released in February, which is based on exile testimony, found that North Korea was committing human rights abuses "without parallel in the contemporary world."
It noted that the country's human rights situation "exceeds all others in duration, intensity and horror", mentioning labour camps with tens of thousands of prisoners.
Michael Kirby, who chaired the report, described the move as "an important step in the defence of human rights".
For its part, Pyongyang described those camps as "detention centres where people are improved through their mentality and look on their wrongdoings".
The resolution makes no mention of North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-un, but says that the "highest level of the state" holds responsibility for the rights abuses.
Still, few diplomats and experts think the Security Council will pass the measure. Two of its permanent members, China - Pyongyang's main ally - and Russia, voted against it on Tuesday along with Cuba, Iran, Syria, Belarus, Venezuela, Uzbekistan and Sudan.
What is more, "The sponsors and supporters of the draft resolution should be held responsible for all the consequences as they are the ones who have destroyed the opportunity and conditions for human rights cooperation," North Korea's UN representative Sin So Ho said.