Wednesday, 16 January 2013

For the ride

Kim Jong-un

The UN has decided to wag a finger at North Korea. 

U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay called on Monday for an international investigation into what she said may be crimes against humanity in North Korea, including torture and executions of political prisoners held in shadowy camps.

Navanethem "Navi" Pillay, a one time South African lawyer and apparently a woman of considerable courage and ability, has taken a break from the gender and sexual orientation games to look at something a little more basic in human rights terms – a little more human at any rate.

Yet it may well be that the UN has suddenly decided to poke a small stick at North Korea in view of China's recent declared intention to reform its own forced labour camps.

China will reform its controversial system of forced labour camps this year, state media reported on Monday, which would mark a first step toward legal reform promised by new Communist Party chief Xi Jinping.

So is this a bit of opportunist faux muscle-flexing by the UN chair-polishers? North Korea has been the vilest of vile dictatorships all my life, so I’ll excuse myself for being a little cynical about this move, welcome though it certainly ought to be.

Has the UN achieved anything in North Korea? It has certainly made no positive difference to the lives of millions of North Koreans. In which case one is left wondering yet again what the UN stands for apart from the careers of international bureaucrats, worthy though those careers may sometimes have been before the UN sucked them in. 

Navi Pillay's announcement will have no impact on Kim Jong-un and the policies of his ruling elite, although it is presumably just possible that internal policy decisions have already been made about North Korean labour camps. Decisions known to the UN.

In that case, the UN may be sneaking a ride on changes which it knows on the cards anyway. We shall see.


James Higham said...

Has the UN achieved anything in North Korea?

Everything we need to know on it is in that question.

Anonymous said...

In finance they say the market can remain irrational longer than you can stay solvent. Suspect N Korea can remain a dictatorship longer than Ms Pillay stays in the Yuman Rights job.

A K Haart said...

James - and I bet they don't ask it.

Roger - suspect you are right - also suspect she may know it.