Report of the DPRK Association for Human Rights Studies: Full Text [UPDATED]

Since the North Korean state seems unable to convey proper URLs for an arguably significant document, I’ve rooted around the website, done a bunch of cutting and pasting, and can present to you a full pdf of the Report of the DPRK Association for Human Rights Studies.

It runs 167 pages; obviously citations of such a work are problematic, but at the very least it deserves a proper read by individuals concerned with human rights discourse not just around, but in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea / the DPRK.

[UPDATE, 23 September 2014]

Having finally printed and skimmed the report, with every intention to do a more in-depth reading in the near future, I have found the following reference documents to be most helpful in understanding the audience or policy context for the North Korean report, which otherwise would be a kind of curiosity:

DPRK, ‘National Report Submitted in Accordance with Paragraph 5 of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 16/21,’ 30 January 2014 (UN document A/HRC/WG/6/19/PRK/1).

— This is an 18 page document which largely anticipates the approach of the DPRK’s September 2014 document; it lauds what is going on in North Korea and notes the existence of various laws and social benefits, without going head-on versus the COI process (which at that point was still ongoing).

The above document was preceded by Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,  23 January 2014 (UN document A/HRC/WG.6/19/PRK/3), a 14-page Summary  which dug into the prison camps issue, again avoided by the DPRK, but also noted problems surrounding children’s rights; it was followed on 24 February 2014 by UN document A/HRC/WG.6/19/PRK/2.

A number of other relevant UNHCR documents on North Korea can be located here.

The blog UN Watch had some good writing on this: UN Watch, ‘North Korea, 4.5 Years Late, Rejects all Meaningful UPR Recommendations,’ and ‘Crimes Against Humanity…But Keep Up the Good Work,’ 1 May 2014; UN Watch, ‘North Korea Lies to the World Ahead of its UN Review,’ 3 April 2014.

In reviewing the debate and the documents, it seems the long DPRK Human Rights report is a response not to the COI directly, but to the Universal Periodic Review process, so this 28-page document is may in fact be our best starting point for understanding the interface between what DPRK and UN, respectively, are saying:

Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, UN Document A/HRC/27/10, 2 July 2014.

Before one final spate of citations, a question of discourse: What ought we to call the new DPRK report, the original focus of this post? I suggest terming it the DPRK ‘Association for Human Rights Studies’ Report with scare quotes around the organization name to reflect that the organization is patently not a proper NGO and should not be treated as one, although its linkages to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and every other relevant ministry in North Korea still need to be documented.

A final cluster of helpful links:

See also Roberta Cohen, ‘Human Rights Progress in North Korea: Is it Possible?’, 38 North, 20 March 2012 and Stephan Haggard,The Special Rapporteur’s Report: Changing the Debate on North Korean Human Rights at the UN,’ 13 February 2014, ‘The Human Rights Council Vote,’ 31 March 2014, ‘Commission of Inquiry Roundup: the UN Role (Part II),’ 6 March 2014, and, most significantly for purposes of being up-to-date on the DPRK’s moves and meta-context, ‘Next Stages on the Commission of Inquiry: the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly,‘  all published at Witness to Transformation (the indispensable Peterson International Institute of Economics blog).

Image: North Korean representative got a laugh at a March meeting of UNHCR for “Mind your own business.” Faces then soured as he explained how ugly everyone was. [Source.]


  1. Good job, Adam.

    On first skimming, there are some suitably bold claims made:

    (p. 92) “Even today in Japan, selling and buying of slaves, forced labour, human trafficking and child
    labour are rampant.”

    (p.107) “The DPRK is the only country where all people, irrespective of gender, have access to free education in their lifetime.”

    And some odd laws are ‘explained’:

    (p. 108) “When triplets are born, the state provides them with clothes, blankets, milk products, etc. free of charge and gives subsidy to their parents until they reach the school age. The state also assigns a doctor to every triplet and their mother to take care of their health.”

    Does this mean that each triplet receives their own doctor?! And the mother, too? Perhaps they should have included a section on the ample size of North Korean delivery rooms.

    1. Thanks for the comment and diving into this somewhat puzzling document, James. I have managed to print it up (yesterday afternoon) and have also been skimming — there is some good grist for the philosophers about individual rights being ‘unthinkable’ as separate from the collective. It helped me to understand that when the DPRK writes about ‘the realizing of independence’ it’s probably better interpreted as ‘independence (of the united masses, guided by a single brain),’ to put it crudely.

      There is a section on the comfort women issue that got zero discussion in the small ripple of media attention garnered thus far for the report, and I hope to see that contextualized as well — the kind of ‘longue duree’ approach that the DPRK tends to take, i.e., North Koreans should be grateful today, because the baseline for all standards ought properly to be the repression of the colonial period (‘see, aren’t we much better than all of that?’).

    2. It seems what also needs doing with this document is to stand it up against the various UN Universal Period Reviews and such. I’ve updated the post accordingly.

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