UN Commission of Inquiry on North Korea

At the beginning of 2014, we were asked by the South Korean Ambassador for Human Rights to review and prepare a legal opinion for Human Liberty on the United Nations Commission of Enquiry Report on Human Rights in North Korea (the UNCOI Report). The purpose of the opinion was to support the human rights of all North Korean citizens by publicizing the suffering of citizens at the hands of the North Korean authorities to assist in bringing those authorities to account for their actions.

Our London team reviewed the findings of the UNCOI Report and assessed the extent to which these suggested that the activities of the North Korean authorities amounted to crimes against humanity, including genocide. The opinion also discussed the options open to the UN Security Council, the International Criminal Court, and the international community generally to take appropriate action. Our opinion was intended to add weight and further impetus to the UNCOI Report's own conclusions. It was published in May 2014 and presented and debated at a U.S. congressional hearing in June 2014, as well as being mentioned in the House of Lords.

During the course of the work, we liaised closely with the Honorable Michael Kirby AC, chair of the UNCOI, and Lord David Alton, chairman of the All Parliamentary Party Group on North Korea. A group of lawyers spent an excess of 700 hours total from November 2013 to May 2014 on the matter and published a final opinion in May.

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