U.S. special envoy calls on North Korea for Human Rights reform

U.S. envoy Turner urges North Korea to reform for human rights improvement.

On Wednesday, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights urged Pyongyang to initiate a “reform” effort aimed at improving its human rights situation. Ambassador Julie Turner emphasized that advancing respect for human dignity within North Korea remains a primary focus for Washington. Turner’s comments coincided with the 10th anniversary of the publication of a significant UN Commission of Inquiry report, which accused North Korean officials of committing severe human rights abuses on a widespread scale and proposed actions for addressing these issues.
In a video message released by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Ambassador Julie Turner urged the international community to reflect on the recommendations made a decade ago and contemplate additional actions to advance them. She emphasized the importance of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) initiating a reform process to implement the suggestions outlined in the 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) report and to uphold human rights standards.
The COI report recommended that Pyongyang implement immediate and comprehensive institutional reforms to establish checks and balances on the authority of the nation’s leader and the ruling Workers’ Party. These reforms included the establishment of an independent and impartial judiciary and the introduction of a multiparty political system.

Ambassador Turner highlighted that the United States reiterated the COI’s recommendation to China and other nations, urging them to adhere to the principle of non-refoulement and refrain from forcibly repatriating individuals to North Korea unless there is substantial improvement in the treatment there, verified by international observers.

Regarding Pyongyang’s upcoming universal periodic review later this year, Turner expressed optimism that it would provide an opportunity to enhance respect for human rights. The universal periodic review is a mechanism that requires each UN member state to undergo a peer evaluation of its human rights record every 4.5 years.

The ambassador reiterated the United States’ dedication to improving human rights conditions for the people of North Korea. Turner has consistently emphasized the significance of human rights issues in North Korea, asserting that security and human rights are closely interconnected. She believes that a restrictive political environment enables the North Korean regime to allocate public resources to its weapons programs without opposition from its citizens.