US to press UN action against North Korea, Sri Lanka for human rights abuses

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U.N. Human Rights chief Navi Pillay endorsed the investigation last month. The probe is widely seen as long overdue — North Korea is alleged to hold 200,000 people in labor camps — but has caused divisions in South Korea, which hopes to reconcile with its northern neighbor.


Brimmer also said the United States would shortly introduce a resolution calling on the international community to “monitor progress” in Sri Lanka's reconciliation efforts. Sri Lanka has been accused of continuing to discriminate against the country's Tamil minority after defeating a 26-year insurgency.

“The Council’s work remains unfinished so long as Sri Lanka continues to fall short in implementing even the recommendations of its own Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission, or in addressing the underlying sources of its longstanding ethnic conflict,” Brimmer said. “Last year’s HRC resolution encouraged brave civil society groups on the ground to continue their efforts, and the United States will introduce another resolution at this session to ensure that the international community continues to monitor progress, and to again offer assistance on outstanding reconciliation and accountability issues. 

"The United States hopes this resolution will be a cooperative effort with the Sri Lankan government,” she added.

Brimmer's comments suggest that new Secretary of State John Kerry backs the effort. Kerry criticized U.S. policy toward Sri Lanka as being too narrowly focused on human rights when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“As Western countries became increasingly critical of the Sri Lankan Government’s handling of the war and human rights record, the [government] cultivated ties with such countries as Burma, China, Iran, and Libya,” the committee wrote in a 2009 report. “The United States cannot afford to ‘'lose' Sri Lanka.”

The committee's first recommendation was to “take a broader and more robust approach to Sri Lanka that appreciates new political and economic realities in Sri Lanka and U.S. geostrategic interests."

"Such an approach should be multidimensional so that U.S. policy is not driven solely by short-term humanitarian concerns but rather an integrated strategy that leverages political, economic, and security tools for more effective long-term reforms,” the report said.

Brimmer also said the United States would support an extension of the U.N. Human Rights panel's independent commission of inquiry on Syria. She urged the council to stop what she called its discrimination against Israel, a common complaint among the council's U.S. and Israeli critics.