North Korea Earns Seat on WHO Executive Board Despite Abysmal Human Rights Record

  • by:
  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

During the 76th annual meeting of the U.N.'s World Health Assembly (WHA) Member states, which ended on May 30, "North Korea won a seat on the World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board, on a slate with nine other countries," according to a May 31 press release from U.N. Watch, a human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Switzerland. Given the country's unparalleled secrecy and egregious human rights record, it is a stunning development.

According to Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of U.N. Watch, the decision to give North Korea a seat at the table "is an absurd episode for a key U.N. agency that is in much need of self-reflection and reform." Hillel adds that North Korea is "one of the world's most horrific regimes" and will now be part of a group that "sets and enforces the standards and norms for the global governance of health care." Hillel explained that North Korea will remain part of the WHO's executive board for "at least the next three years, allowing the current supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un, to influence the WHO's agency, policies and appointments."

Ironically, Israel Was Condemned at WHA, and Taiwan was Repeatedly Barred from Participation

The decision is especially absurd given the WHO barred Taiwan from participation and "singled out Israel" for condemnation during the same meeting. U.N. Watch reports that it "held a special debate on May 24 to single out Israel, which Iran, Syria, North Korea, Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba condemned for allegedly violating the health rights of Palestinians and the Druze population in the Golan Heights."

In a 76 to 13 vote, with 35 abstentions, the WHO assembly members adopted a resolution to draft another report after holding the same debate next year on the health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Golan. Israel was singled out for allegedly putting up "barriers to health access" to Palestinians in the identified territories.

Taiwan's applications to join the U.N. and WHO have been repeatedly denied. Taiwan has also been denied participation in the WHA since 2017. The denial of participation means Taiwan cannot share its "comprehensive pandemic data" with WHO. According to a report from Newsweek, Taiwan was the earliest country to report evidence of "infectious disease emerging from Wuhan, China, on Dec. 31, 2019. WHO did not follow up, wasting precious time to contain the disease.

It is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that drives the decision to continue to exclude Taiwan because of Taiwan's independence from China. China has no legitimate authority to determine Taiwan's participation. Ironically, countries with dubious human rights records, like China, Russia, Iran, and Venezuela, can participate in the U.N.

According to Newsweek, the implications of Taiwan's exclusion from the WHA are not inconsequential.

"Taiwan's exclusion from the WHA could also have major negative implications for the development of global public health strategies. Taiwan has consistently demonstrated remarkable success in epidemic prevention, and its efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 have been widely praised. Because Taiwan is not internationally recognized, the government has been unable to purchase COVID-19 vaccines and has relied on donations from countries such as the United States and Lithuania."

North Korea's Abysmal Human Rights Record

North Korea's human rights record is indisputably abysmal. Human Rights Watch reports that North Korea remains one of the "most repressive countries in the world." Moreover, the pandemic ushered in a new era of control in North Korea. Leaders there imposed "extreme and unnecessary measures to close borders and tightly restrict domestic travel, with strict controls on the distribution of food and other products within the country."

Healthcare is rationed based on proximity to powerful party members, and amputations are administered without anesthesia. Defection is rare because it is condemned and very, very difficult. The 2023 Human Rights Watch report states, "The Ministry of Social Security considers defection to be a crime of 'treachery against the nation...Just over 1,000 North Koreans fled to the south in 2019, but only 42 reached South Korea between January and September 2022."

The severe measures imposed in North Korea caused famine and widespread misery, also compounded by severe floods that "destroyed crops, roads, and bridges—undermined the country's agricultural production plan." Meanwhile, North Korean leadership rejected life-saving aid from the international community.

Abject poverty, fear, torture, severe due process violations, imprisonment for "counter speak," racism, and police violence are all part of the daily fabric of life in North Korea. It is impossible for most Americans to truly grasp just how impoverished and captive the people of North Korea are. Most who live there have no idea what freedom means, and the level of governmental brainwashing and propaganda are also profoundly difficult for most Westerners to fathom.


Yeonmi Park Speaks About Daily Life, Her Defection, and Her Views on America

North Korean defector Yeonmi Park fled the country when she was 13. She fled first to China and settled in the United States. Park has become famous for speaking against what she believes to be growing tyranny from progressive ideology here in America. She considers that most Americans take their liberty for granted. Park authored two books, "In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom" and "While Time Remains: A North Korean Defector's Search for Freedom in America." Park spoke at a mid-April Liberty University public policy conference where she described her experiences in her repressive homeland.

"In North Korea, seeing dying people is like looking at a tree. That's how common it is," she said. "In North Korea, we don't even have a concept of love. The only love that North Korean people are allowed to know is the love for the dictator. … Until my father passed away, he never told me he loved me."

"A lot of people don't understand how North Korea became this way. It resembles exactly what's happening in America right now," she said, referring to her concerns with Critical Race Theory, gender ideology, and intersectionality seeping into the American Education system, which she said fosters a victim mentality. "Now thinking about (these ideologies), what an insult that is to all the students. They were on purpose making me a disabled person."

Below, Park speaks about her experiences in daily life as a commoner growing up in North Korea.



Get the latest news delivered daily!

We will send you breaking news right to your inbox

© 2024