May 17, 2017

A Challenge for Humanitarian Action in North Korea

By Roberta Cohen, Co-Chair Emeritus, HRNK, and member, Administrative Council, The Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI)

The UN’s new Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the DPRK, Argentine jurist Tomas Ojea Quintana, has issued a challenge to the UN’s humanitarian and development agencies in North Korea: he has called on them to ensure that their humanitarian programs benefit “vulnerable groups, including those who are in detention facilities, prison camps and political prison camps.” [1]

That this is a population in severe need was made clear in the 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) report which found that political prisoners in North Korea suffer from deliberate starvation, an absence of medical attention as well as cruel and inhuman treatment.[2] The COI estimated that hundreds of thousands perished in the kwan-li-so, North Korea’s secret political prison camps, over the past five decades, and that some 80,000 to 120,000 remain incarcerated today, many of them family members of prisoners.[3] It described their plight as evidence of “extermination,” the crime of “imprisoning a large number of people and withholding the necessities of life so that mass deaths ensue.”[4] In the reeducation through labor camps (kyo-hwa-so) and other detention facilities where thousands more political prisoners are held, death rates are also reported to be high because of malnutrition and diseases related to the lack of food and ill treatment.[5] The COI found violations committed against prisoners in the kwan-li-so, kyo-hwa-so and other facilities to constitute “crimes against humanity.”[6]

In response to the COI’s findings, the UN General Assembly began in 2015 to list “political prisoners” as one of “the most vulnerable groups” in North Korea, along with the more traditionally acknowledged pregnant and lactating women, children, persons with disabilities, and the elderlyin the paragraphs of its resolution on “chronic and acute malnutrition” in North Korea.[7] In 2016, the Assembly went further and called upon North Korea to allow humanitarian agencies access to “all” parts of the country, “including detention facilities.”[8] This resolution was adopted by consensus and also pointed to the “vulnerable” situation of children who had been incarcerated with their families and were “living in detention” in prison camps.[9] The plight of detained children was also highlighted by former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in one of his last reports to the General Assembly on North Korea.[10] And Jan Eliasson, the former Deputy Secretary-General (DSG), speaking before the Security Council in December 2016, affirmed that “the most vulnerable” group in the DPRK is North Korea’s prison population.[11]

A few months prior to the publication of the COI report, Eliasson announced a new UN initiative of the Secretary-Generalthe Human Rights up Front (HRuF) approachintended to “ensure that the UN Secretariat, Programmes and Funds meet the responsibilities given to them by the Charter and Member States” and “respond more effectively when there is a risk that serious violations of international human rights or of humanitarian law could turn into mass atrocities.”[12]

But, despite the COI findings and the commitment of UN leaders to have aid workers react to serious human rights violations, it is not always evident that the aid community on the ground in the DPRK accepts that the most vulnerable are political prisoners whom their humanitarian programs should try to reach. The UN agencies, funds and programmes working in the DPRKcalled the UN Country Teaminclude the World Food Program (WFP), UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and the UN Development Program (UNDP). Their activities are coordinated by a UN Resident Coordinator who reports both to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and UNDP. 

On their websites, the agencies emphasize that they reach the most vulnerable in the DPRK. The WFP website, for example, assures that the organization is “assisting the most vulnerable” in the DPRK, [13] and UNICEF’s website likewise speaks of giving “the world’s most vulnerable children the nutrition, water, and medical supplies they desperately need.”[14] The Country Team’s just concluded 2017 Needs and Priorities document for the DPRK also emphasizes how the agencies will improve the health, nutrition and resilience of “the most vulnerable people” in North Korea.[15]

Many political prisoners are reported to be housed in provinces where agencies conduct operations, and information in recent UN reports and resolutions suggests the need for a broader more inclusive framework in the DPRK than the one driving programs thus far. The UN’s new Strategic Framework (2017-2021), which governs its relations with the DPRK, has as one of its main principles, applying a “human rights-based approach” throughout UN programs. Ably negotiated by the Resident Coordinator on behalf of the Country Team and Headquarters, the Framework offers to support North Korea in carrying out its commitments under UN human rights treaties and under the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of its human rights record.[16] One of these commitments is “free and unimpeded access to all populations in need.” [17] Another is non-discrimination in the distribution of food and health care, and a third, gender equality. All three are a basis for raising with DPRK officials access and provision of aid to political prisoners. The former Secretary-General called these and other UPR commitments “important entry points for dialogue and cooperation on human rights” with the government.[18]

The difficulty of putting such principles into practice was illustrated in 2016 when a typhoon struck North Korea. This article reviews what occurred then and proposes steps to bring humanitarian action more in line with the human rights commitments reflected in General Assembly resolutions, reports of the Secretary-General, appeals of the Special Rapporteur and the guidelines and frameworks of the agencies themselves.

Typhoon Lionrock

In 2016, the typhoon that struck North Hamgyong province in the northeast of the country flooded not only farmlands, homes and buildings (e.g. health clinics, schools), affecting some 600,000 people, but also a reeducation through labor camp, Kyo-hwa-so No. 12, in Jongo-ri, Hoeryong City.

The flooding of the camp was visible on satellite imagery, and HRNK forwarded the images and an analysis to the UN with the request that access be sought to the affected persons.[19] Special Rapporteur Ojea Quintana responded quickly by publicly calling upon the DPRK to allow humanitarian workers access to “persons in detention facilities and prisons” in the flooded areas.[20] DSG Eliasson expressed support for this call, while OCHA officials acknowledged and agreed to take the information under consideration.

The COI report had described Kyo-hwa-so No. 12, as “one of the biggest and perhaps the best-documented ordinary prison camp.” [21] “Many of its inmates” had been “forcibly repatriated from nearby China or had contact with the Christian churches operating in the border region.”[22] Most were reported to suffer from malnutrition and starvation:

… the average prisoner only receive[s] about 300 grams of rough corn porridge or cooked rice with beans per day. This amount of food provides only a fraction of the minimum dietary energy requirement for adults in the DPRK, as calculated by the United Nations.[23]

One female inmatereleased in 2011told the COI that “The small rations left her so hungry that she ate different types of grass, wild mushrooms and tree bark to survive.” She also was witness to “other inmates being beaten for stealing food.”[24] Other sources have also confirmed the “below subsistence level” food rations at the camp, “forcing inmates to eat whatever insects and rodents they are able to trap for themselves.”[25] The COI observed that “Those who do not find additional sources of food are effectively condemned to starving to death.”[26]

The flooding undoubtedly made the food situation far worse in the camp. Experts reported that due to the flooding, the “crop loss” in nearby agricultural fields “may have exacerbated the already severe food shortage for prisoners in the camp.” Furthermore, “the water level in the waste pond from the nearby copper mine has risen.”[27]

At the time of the floods, Kyo-hwa-so No. 12 had an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 inmates, including some 800 to 1,000 women, mostly detained after having been forcibly repatriated from China where they had sought work or to defect to South Korea.[28] Indeed, a separate section for women had been constructed in 2009 to accommodate the increasing number of women being returned and punished.

The decision not to seek access

When humanitarian agency staff at UN headquarters deliberated over whether or not the Country Team should try to reach disaster victims in Kyo-hwa-so No. 12never before had they entered a camp or requested accessthey ultimately decided not to do so. Although their reasons and deliberations were not made public, the arguments against their doing so are well known:
  • Requesting access would rankle North Korean officials and possibly undermine humanitarian operations on behalf of other flood victims and upset non-flood programs as well. 
  • Seeking access to a prison camp is a human rights, not a humanitarian, responsibility. 
  • Going beyond accepted practice was inadvisable, especially since cooperation was going well with North Korean authorities enabling agencies to help many flood victims. 
  • The numbers in the camp were small compared with the needs of non-prisoners affected by the floods.
  • Information provided by satellite imagery could be uncertain. 

Validity of the arguments

Getting along with the government. It is understandable that humanitarian agencies would want to work effectively with the host government and to this end not introduce requests that might rankle the authorities or in some way undermine their programs. But cooperation at the expense of setting aside the important humanitarian goal of reaching all affected populations must be questioned. The DPRK agreed to the principle of “free and unimpeded access to all populations in need” at the Human Rights Council’s review off its human rights record in 2014.[29] Reminding its officials of this pledge and of the humanitarian imperative of reaching the most vulnerable in emergencies would have been in order. In fact, the Country Team reported that the provincial and local authorities who organized the needs assessment and review missions of flooded areas showed “flexibility in accommodating changes to the programme,” and the review mission itself was “based on the requests by mission members.”[30] Humanitarian agencies were close by to Kyo-hwa-so No. 12 since they were given access to Hoeryong City in the broader heavily affected area where the camp is located. And in this particular case, they actually had some leverage because North Korea had requested the assistance and had to listen to the views expressed. While a request for entry to the camp could have been turned down, at least the issue of entering a flooded camp and reaching its vulnerable people would have been on the table as a legitimate ‘ask’ and could be revisited in future.

Governments and insurgent groups around the world are known to obstruct aid to vulnerable populations on ethnic, racial or political grounds, but humanitarian actors pay a heavy price to their profession and its standards if they acquiesce in a government’s neglect of a vulnerable group, especially one to which UN resolutions and reports pay special attention. Making the request for entry would have accorded with the Country Team’s 2017 Needs and Priorities document that speaks of reaching the most vulnerable. It also would have been in line with the UN’s Strategic Framework which supports North Korea’s carrying out of its commitments under the UPR and “connecting” the DPRK to “shared international values.”[31] For the agency staff who fear reprisals and reduction of humanitarian aid programs for making such a request, it is worth noting that North Korea does not deny the existence of reeducation through labor camps, [32] as it does the secret kwan-li-so camps. And the one or two senior UN officials who have raised the kwan-li-so camps in conversations with North Korean officials have faced no retaliation. [33]

Not a humanitarian issue. That access to the camps should be considered solely a human rights and not a humanitarian issue overlooks that the most acute cases of hunger and disease in North Korea can be found in the camps. A recent report by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul—based on interviews with former inmates at Kyo-hwa-so No. 12 who observed some 276 prisoners—estimated that the fatality rate at North Korea’s labor camps was close to 25 percent, with most of the deaths caused by undernourishment and disease. It considered “notable that 8 in 10 North Korean prisoners suffered from malnutrition before death.”[34] In failing to request access to such camps and include prisoners in the vulnerable groups, humanitarian actors risk becoming complicit in the government’s deliberate marginalization and de-humanizing of these people on political grounds. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Operational Guidelines on the Protection of Persons in Situations of Natural Disasters, [35] which humanitarian agencies have adopted, specifically call on humanitarian actors in disaster situations to:

Accept that human rights underpin humanitarian action. In situations of natural disasters they [humanitarian actors] should therefore respect the human rights of persons affected by disasters at all times and advocate for their promotion and protection to the fullest extent [emphasis added]. Such organizations should not promote, actively participate in, or in any other manner endorse policies or activities leading or likely to lead to human rights violations or abuses.[36]

In many countries, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the organization that enters prison camps. But in North Korea, the ICRC has not been given such access; nor has the UN Special Rapporteur. The humanitarian agencies operating on the ground have the responsibility to represent the UN system’s “three pillars”human rights, development and peace and security. According to the UNDG Guidance Note on Human Rights for Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams, the Resident Coordinator and the Country Team are expected “to promote” these pillars.[37]

The HRuF approach, introduced into the UN in 2013 called upon the entire UN system to develop “a system wide strategy” when countries face serious violations of human rights. Its application to North Korea should mean that all the operational agencies on the ground place the protection of human rights in a central place, provide and share candid information about people at risk, develop a common information system, and raise issues with the government in the face of serious violations.[38] The UN’s new Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed support for this policy.[39]

Too small numbers. Ignoring thousands of flood victims in detention facilities because of their relatively small numbers is not a persuasive argument. Both the gravity of their situation and the special concern expressed by the United Nations for the plight of political prisoners should be of far greater weight. General Assembly resolutions adopted by consensus have called for the release of North Korea’s political prisoners because of the horrific conditions to which they are subjected and the absence of due process in the country. UN reports and resolutions have also given special attention to those forcibly repatriated because of the inhumane treatment meted out to them, as in Kyo-hwa-so No. 12.[40]

Reliability of satellite imagery. Humanitarian and development agencies have long recognized satellite imagery as a legitimate and credible source of information. In recent years, such imagery has become a common tool for mapping resources in support of the UN’s sustainable development goals worldwide. Since 2003, HRNK has used satellite imagery to confirm the existence of detention facilities in the DPRK.[41] Together with satellite imagery experts at AllSource Analysis, it prepared a ‘baseline’ report on Kyo-hwa-so No. 12 weeks before the flooding, based on archived imagery of the facility and testimony by former prisoners, guards, officials in charge and other sources.[42] When Typhoon Lionrock struck, the experts were easily able to see the changes that had taken place at the facility, in particular the flooding, from the newly acquired satellite imagery.

The UN Commission of Inquiry, chaired by a former justice of the high court of Australia, Michael Kirby, found satellite imagery of campsprovided by professional analysts and supplemented by testimonies of former guards and inmatesconclusive for their findings: 

These images not only prove to the Commission’s satisfaction the continued existence and ongoing operation of large-scale detention facilities. They also provide a clear picture of the evolution of the prison camp structure and corroborate the first-hand accounts received from former prisoners and guards.[43]

Moving Forward

There are a number of steps that could be taken by the UN to deal more effectively with human rights in North Korea and improve the prospects for humanitarian access to prisoners in kyo-hwa-so camps (housing both political and other prisoners) and the kwan-li-so (housing political prisoners).

Training of humanitarian staff

While the Country Team staff received training in the HRuF approach and also in international human rights standards,[44] it received no training about the camps, the needs of people inside them, their location, or their proximity to UN operations. In the case of Typhoon Lionrock, it was NGOs and the Special Rapporteur who alerted the UN to the fact Kyo-hwa-so No. 12 was flooded and that other camps and detention facilities (such as Kwan-li-so Camp No. 25) might also be affected.[45] Because North Korea treats incarcerated men, women and children as non-persons or disposable people, it is essential that humanitarian actors be informed about their plight and vulnerability. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) should hold briefings for humanitarian staff on the relationship between issues such as discrimination in the provision of food and health care and the effectiveness of humanitarian operations on the ground.

The impact of disasters on vulnerable groups also needs to be examined. When drought or other disasters exacerbate food shortages in North Korea, prisoners are reported among the first to die.[46] Their vulnerability becomes clear when one considers that about 70 percent of the population (some 18 million people), according to the Country Team, suffers “food insecurity and undernutrition;” some 15 million need access to basic health services, and 3.5 million, clean water and proper sanitation.[47] Compared to disadvantaged North Koreans, prisoners fare far worse.

The meaning of vulnerability must convey a fuller understanding than what is included in the Country Team’s Needs and Priorities report. Regional bodies like the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have produced case law pertinent to the particular vulnerability of persons deprived of their liberty and the extreme vulnerability of children when confined.[48]

The IASC Operational Guidelines on the Protection of Persons in Situations of Natural Disasters should also be studied as part of the training, as should the UNDG Guidance Note on Human Rights for Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams. The IASC Guidelines speak of “persons with special needs” and suggest:

Identifying as soon as possible persons and groups with a history of being discriminated against prior to the disaster, or with special needs, and monitoring ongoing humanitarian action to avoid that they are discriminated against and intervene if this happens.[49]

The training could be provided by OHCHR, OCHA or outside specialists.

Closer collaboration with the Special Rapporteur and OHCHR

The Resident Coordinator and Country Team should cooperate more closely with the Special Rapporteur and OHCHR. Such cooperation would help fill an important gap since there are no human rights specialists on the Country Team. In his latest report to the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur offered to “work closely” with the Country Team and OHCHR “to follow up on the implementation of the recommendations” that North Korea accepted during the UPR and under its human rights treaty obligations.[50]

The Special Rapporteur and OHCHR could assist the Country Team in developing a strategy for reaching the most vulnerable in the country, promoting non-discrimination in the distribution of food and medical care, and focusing greater attention on gender equality. The Resident Coordinator and the North Korean authorities have “agreed to hold periodic meetings” regarding implementation of the UPR recommendations.[51]

The signing by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the head of UNDP of the Guidance Note on Human Rights for Resident Coordinators and the UN Country Team should open the door to enhanced cooperation and concrete human rights steps on the ground. The Special Rapporteur noted that the Country Team made “significant efforts” to respond to Typhoon Lionrock by bringing in relief assistance to address the widespread damage that affected large numbers of people’s lives and their human rights.[52] However, he also noted that the response overlooked an important human rights concern, namely the “situation of detention centers and correction facilities,”[53] to which access was not requested. Others have pointed to additional problems not acknowledged in the team report[54]that North Korea was said to be using flood aid to repair military roads; [55] or was introducing discriminatory housing policies in rebuilding after the floods in line with its songbun policy;[56] or did not move to reconstruct flood-ravaged areas near the Chinese border (in order to make it more difficult for North Koreans to hide while seeking to defect).[57] These allegations may or may not be true but ignoring them when international aid is involved is not an acceptable solution and one to which the Special Rapporteur and OHCHR could have provided guidance. 

Applying the Human Rights up Front (HRuF) approach

The system wide strategy known as HRuF should be applied as fully as possible in North Korea. General Assembly resolutions have encouraged the UN system “as a whole,” including the “specialized agencies” to address the grave human rights situation in the country.[58] The UN’s Strategic Framework reflects this thinking and should become the foundation for developing a dialogue with North Korean authorities that lead to concrete steps to promote human rights and expand access to vulnerable people.

Reaching the most vulnerable in the country should be one of the principal objectives of this approach. During the floods, humanitarian organizations gained access to three affected counties (Yonsa, Musan and Hoeyryong), but were apparently prevented from visiting three others (Onsong, Kyongwon and Kyonghung) and failed to request access to flooded detention facilities in areas where they were allowed.

Increased access would strengthen humanitarian work and should be promoted under HRuF. WFP’s website currently states: “whatever the weather,” WFP “continues to reach the most vulnerable people.”[59] Making that into a reality not only for WFP but the other agencies as well would accord with the purposes of HRuF. Agencies should know where camps are located and develop a strategic plan to encompass all people reported to be at risk of starvation and ill health. The Country Team’s 2017 Needs and Priorities affirms that,

Humanitarian partners apply a rights-based approach in the formulation and implementation of projects, especially in the targeting of beneficiaries, to address inequalities and reach the most vulnerable people.[60]

In the case of children, the General Assembly has called attention to the vulnerability of “returned or repatriated children, street children, children with disabilities, children whose parents are detained, children living in detention or in institutions and children in conflict with the law.”[61] Even though such children go beyond those to whom the DPRK generally allows access, they should become part of HRuF objectives for UNICEF and the Country Team.

For WHO, requesting access to prison and detention facilities would be broadly beneficial. Tuberculosis is on the rise in the DPRK and is known to be rife in prison camps. WHO has found in other countries that controlling TB in prison protects the population at large, and has introduced Health in Prison Programs.[62] Replicating those programs in North Korea through access to the facilities to which North Korea admitsthe kyo-hwa-sowould be a way to begin.

In supporting the 2018 DPRK census, UNFPA should consider raising questions about the location, number and characteristics of all vulnerable populations, including prisoners, so as to encourage a truly effective humanitarian response.

Backup from UN leadership

For HRuF to be applied effectively, the Secretary-General’s leadership will be needed. Secretary-General Guterres must make clear that not only does he and the heads of agencies stand behind the human rights goals in the UN’s Strategic Framework but that the Resident Coordinator can expect the backup of Headquarters and the agencies when he or other staff seek to apply this approach to the DPRK. In his “Vision Statement,” the Secretary-General expressed his support for “the mainstreaming of human rights across the whole UN system, notably through the Human Rights Up Front initiative,”[63] which he linked to the maintenance of peace and sustainable development in countries.[64]


Over the next five years, the UN’s aid priorities for the DPRK will target nutrition, basic health services, assistance to the victims of natural disasters and more. In pursuit of these objectives, UN agencies should seek to ensure that the humanitarian response they design does in fact reach “the most vulnerable” and that it reflects the values and standards of the organization. Typhoon Lionrock presented an opportunity to raise the subject of access to the camps with the North Korean authorities so that all affected populations could be assisted. It also presented an opportunity to look into other human rights concerns that could affect humanitarian work. Advocating for human rights principles will be a challenge in an environment as difficult as North Korea’s, but the government has accepted some of these principles in theory and the Human Rights Up Front Approach should prove a useful umbrella for linking human rights and humanitarian action and promoting both in practice.

It can be expected that natural disasters will occur again, owing to environmental factors, poor infrastructure and a lack of governmental investment in disaster risk reduction. Expenditures on military and nuclear development, moreover, are likely to exacerbate overall poverty, prompting more sanctions by the world community and aid requests by the DPRK. In responding, humanitarian actors must address the vulnerability of all people in need and integrate this more expansive vision into their planning and programs. No longer should any part of the UN be able to exempt itself from protecting desperately hungry and sick people because of host government objections based on political persecution.


[1] UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, A/HRC/34/66, 13 February 2017, para. 48.
[2] UN Human Rights Council, Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the DPRK, A/HRC/25/63, 7 February 2014 [henceforth COI report]; and Report of the detailed findings of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the DPRK, A/HRC/25/CRP.1, 7 February 2014 [henceforth COI report 2].
[3] COI report 2, para. 1155. See also David Hawk, CNN, 12 December 2012,        
[4] COI report 2, para. 1041.
[5] See COI report 2, paras. 788-802; 804-5, 811-12; and David Hawk, The Hidden Gulag: Second Edition, Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, 2012, pp. 82-84; and David Hawk, The Hidden Gulag IV: Gender Repression and Prisoner Disappearances, Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, 2015, pp. 18-22.    
[6] COI report 2, para. 1161.
[7] UN General Assembly, Resolution on situation of human rights in the DPRK, A/C.3/70/L.35, 30 October 2015, para. 4.
[8] UN General Assembly, Resolution on situation of human rights in the DPRK, A/71/484/Add.3, 19 December 2016, para. 14 (k).
[9] Ibid., para. 2a (viii).
[10] UN General Assembly, Report of the Secretary-General on the Situation of human rights in the DPRK, A/71/439, 7 October 2016, paras. 41-2.
[11] UN Security Council, Statement of Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, UN Doc. S/PV.7830, 9 December 2016.
[12] See
[14] See
[15] UN Country Team, DPRKorea Needs and Priorities, March 2017, at
[16] UN Strategic Framework for Cooperation between the United Nations and the Government of the DPRK, 2017-2021, pp. 8, 14, 21-2, at
[17] UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: DPRK, A/HRC/27/10, 2 July 2014; and Add. 1, 12 September 2014.
[18] UN General Assembly, Report of the Secretary-General on the Situation of human rights in the DPRK, A/70/393, 25 September 2015, paras. 61-62.
[19] HRNK, “The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) and AllSource Analysis Produce Rapid Assessment of Flooding at Re-Education Prison Labor Camp (Kyo-hwa-so) No. 12,” 16 September 2016,
[20] UN OHCHR, “North Korea: UN rights expert calls for increased support for the victims of Typhoon Lionrock,” 21 September 2016, at; see also UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, A/HRC/34/66, 13 February 2017, para. 10.
[21] See COI report 2, para. 790. 
[22] Ibid.
[23] COI report 2, para. 804.
[24] COI report 2, para. 803.
[25] Daniel Tudor and James Pearson, North Korea Confidential, Tuttle Publishing, 2014, p. 117, as cited in David Hawk, The Hidden Gulag IV: Gender Repression, pp. 14-15.
[26] COI report 2, para. 804; see also David Hawk, The Hidden Gulag IV: Gender Repression, pp. 14-16.
[27] Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr. and Greg Scarlatoiu, North Korea: Flooding at Kyo-hwa-so No. 12 Jongo-ri, Committee for Human Rights in North Korea and AllSource Analysis, 16 September 2016, p. 4.
[28] Hawk, The Hidden Gulag IV: Gender Repression, pp. 4, 16-27.
[29] UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: DPRK, A/HRC/27/10, 2 July 2014; and Add. 1, 12 September 2014.
[30] UN Office of the Resident Coordinator in the DPRK, Joint Review Mission to Flood-Affected Areas in North Hamgyong, Pyongyang, 23 November 2016, p. 4.
[31] UN Strategic Framework, Declaration of Collective Commitment, p. 4.
[32] Associated Press, 7 October 2014.
[33] Conversations with UN humanitarian staff, 2015-2016.
[34] “Fatality rate at N. Korean prisons estimated at 25 pct: report,” Yonhap, 7 March 2017.
[35] UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee, IASC Operational Guidelines on the Protection of Persons in Situations of Natural Disasters, published by Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, January 2011.
[36] Ibid., p. 13.
[37] UN Development Group, UNDG Guidance Note on Human Rights for Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams, signed by Helen Clark, Chair, UNDGroup and Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, at
[38] Human Rights Up Front Initiative,, 2013.
[39] Antonio Guterres, Vision Statement, April 4, 2016, at; and Remarks of the Secretary-General to the Security Council Open Debate on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace,” 10 January 2017.
[40] UN General Assembly, Resolution on situation of human rights in the DPRK, A/71/484/Add.3, 19 December 2016, paras. 14 (b) and (e).
[41] David Hawk, The Hidden Gulag: Exposing North Korea’s Prison Camps, pp. 88-120. 
[42] Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Mike Eley, “North Korea: Kyo-hwa-so No 12, Jongo-ri,” Committee for Human Rights in North Korea and AllSource Analysis, August 30, 2016.
[43] COI report 2, para. 734.
[44] The human rights training was provided by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
[45] UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, A/HRC/34/66, 13 February 2017, para. 15.
[46] David Hawk, North Korea’s Hidden Gulag: Interpreting Reports of Changes in the Prison Camps, Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), 27 August 2013, pp. 20-1.
[47] UN Country Team, DPRKorea Needs and Priorities.
[48] See, for example, European Court of Human Rights, Bouyid v. Belgium, 2016, paras. 107 and 110; Popov v. France, 2012, paras. 91 and 102, and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Michael Gayle v. Jamaica, 2005, para. 73.
[49] IASC Operational Guidelines, p. 30.
[50] UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, A/HRC/34/66, 13 February 2017, para. 19.
[51] UN General Assembly, Report of the Secretary-General on the Situation of human rights in the DPRK, A/71/439, 7 October 2016, para. 67. See also UN General Assembly, Report of the Secretary-General on the Situation of human rights in the DPRK, A/70/393, 25 September 2015, paras. 61-62.
[52] UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, A/HRC/34/66, 13 February 2017, paras. 12 and 14.
[53] Ibid., para. 15.
[54] UN Office of the Resident Coordinator in the DPRK, Joint Review Mission to Flood-Affected Areas in North Hamgyong.
[55] Elizabeth Shim, “North Korea using flood aid to repair military roads, report says,” UPI, 16 December 2016.
[56] “Discriminatory housing policies upheld by the regime,” Daily NK, 11 November 2016.
[57] “N. Korea not rebuilding flood-ravaged areas near border to stem defectors,” Yonhap, 15 January 2017.
[58] UN General Assembly, Resolution on situation of human rights in the DPRK, A/71/484/Add.3, 19 December 2016, para. Paras.17 and 18.
[60] UN Country Team, DPRKorea Needs and Priorities.
[61] UN General Assembly, Resolution on situation of human rights in the DPRK, A/71/484/Add.3, 19 December 2016, para. 2a (viii).
[62] World Health Organization,;; and World Health Organization, Prisons and Health, The Health in Prisons Programme,  HIPP, Regional Office for Europe, 2010.
[63] Antonio Guterres, Vision Statement.
[64] Remarks of the Secretary-General to the Security-Council.