Conditions in North Korea face unusually close scrutiny at the U.N. Human Rights Council on December 7, when it goes through a “universal periodic review” (UPR), a mechanism designed to examine one-by-one the rights records of all 192 U.N. member states.
Each review is based on three reports, provided ahead of time by the government, U.N. rights experts and NGOs.
Pyongyang is sensitive to outside criticism, and state media outlets hit back this week, accusing the U.S. and Japanese governments in particular of using human rights as part of “a despicable plot” to apply political pressure against North Korea.
“Those countries that are becoming most vociferous about ‘human rights issues’ are the countries with the most serious human rights records without an exception,” the official KCNA news agency said in an article on Wednesday. “To take the U.S. as an example, the rich get ever richer and the poor ever poorer and the number of the unemployed and the poor is on the steady increase; the right of equality, the right to work and the right to existence – elementary rights of human being – are being ruthlessly violated.”
By contrast, it said, North Korea was “the best socialist state in the world as it is centered on the popular masses.” KCNA said North Koreans “enjoy a genuine life and happiness as human beings, something unimaginable in the capitalist society where a human being is treated as a slave of money."