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UN panel passes NKorea resolution by consensus for 1st time

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UN panel passes NKorea resolution by consensus for 1st time
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New York: A UN committee overseeing human rights issues passed for the first time by consensus a resolution pressuring North Korea to solve the abduction issue as well as address a host of other ongoing violations.

It was the eighth year in a row for such a resolution to come before the Third Committee of the General Assembly, but the first time no vote was taken.

It is extremely rare that a resolution expressing concern about a particular country's human rights situation is passed by consensus.

North Korea and China did not request a vote, despite typically doing so in the past.

It is not yet known why they stopped short of demanding a vote this year.

China, Cuba and Venezuela, however, were among countries that "disassociated" themselves from the consensus resolution.

Diplomatic sources said the adoption by consensus may have been a strategy initiated by China to prevent the text from going to a vote where many expected it to pass by an overwhelming majority, as it has in the past.

It was also speculated that China may have turned away from North Korea on the resolution.

China and North Korea -- officially known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea -- did not elaborate on why they did not seek a vote.

"We believe that this adoption will contribute to realizing a solution to the situation of human rights in the DPRK, in general, and to the abduction issue in particular," Ambassador Tsuneo Nishida of Japan, one of the drafters of the resolution, told the committee.

North Korea kidnapped Japanese citizens during the 1970s and 1980s.

A total of 17 citizens have been officially identified by Tokyo as abductees, and 12 of them have not returned.

The text underscores "very serious concern at unresolved questions of international concern relating to abductions in the form of enforced disappearance."

It also "strongly calls" on Pyongyang to resolve the issue "in a transparent manner, including by ensuring the immediate return of the abductees."

A representative of the European Union, also a joint drafter of the text, noted some "positive steps" the isolated country has taken by increasing its "limited cooperation" with UN agencies and making "minor progress" in dealing with its disabled population.

However, the official noted the overall human rights situation had not improved.

"Regrettably, despite the succession in leadership in the DPRK, there have not been any substantive changes on the ground," the representative added, referring to North Korea's shift of power following the ascent to power of Kim Jong Un following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, last December.

The resolution also expresses deep concerns about the "significant persistent deterioration of the human rights situation" in North Korea despite the leadership change.

North Korean Councillor Kim Song, however, accused countries of engineering the text for political purposes.

"The draft resolution is no more than a political propaganda, co-authored by the US and its followers to achieve their goal of undermining our system," he said.

PTI

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