The US ambassador criticized members of the Security Council for blocking a webcast from airing alleged North Korean abuses.
The United States has condemned members of the United Nations Security Council for trying to shield North Korea from public scrutiny.
“Some members of the council are all too willing to shield the administration from accountability,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said at a council meeting on Friday.
Earlier, China had moved to block a live webcast of an informal Security Council meeting expected to discuss North Korea’s alleged human rights abuses.
Each of the 15 members of the Security Council must be agreed before the informal talks are broadcast live. But China, North Korea’s main ally in the region, issued a rare objection, although the public could still attend the meeting in person.
This drew a rebuke from the US UN mission, which has previously been in conflict with China and another Security Council member, Russia, over human rights discussions.
“We continue to speak out against North Korea’s human rights abuses and threats to international peace,” the US mission tweeted. “They may be able to silence the voices of the people of North Korea, but they cannot silence our voices.”
Russia and China have opposed human rights discussions in the Security Council and point to the existence of another UN Council dealing with the issue.
Chinese diplomat Xing Jisheng, who heads the country’s UN mission, called Friday’s meeting “not constructive in any way” given the rising tensions in the Pacific.
North Korea said on Friday that the intercontinental ballistic missile it launched the day before was intended to strike fear into enemies of its government led by Kim Jong-un.
The isolated communist state has carried out four missile launches in about a week, citing “open hostility” by the United States and its allies in the region.
North Korea carried out the launches as South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met in Tokyo to mend relations between their countries. The United States and its allies have also organized military exercises in the region.
“Instead of easing tensions,” Xing said of Friday’s meeting, “it may rather deepen the conflict and is therefore irresponsible.”
He also rejected the proposal to broadcast the events on the UN’s WebTV platform as “a waste of UN resources”.
Russian diplomat Stepan Kuzmenkov echoed these criticisms in a statement to the Security Council, accusing the United States of using human rights as a political tool. Russia has previously been expelled from the UN Human Rights Council due to suspected violations of Ukraine.
“The West’s pretended hypocritical concern for human rights in North Korea is not fooling anyone,” Kuzmenkov said. “Everybody knows very well that the United States uses human rights to make deals with governments that are not to their liking.”
The US will host an informal meeting with Albania on Friday. During the hearing, Thomas-Greenfield urged the Security Council to fulfill its “obligation to address North Korea’s gross human rights violations,” which she said “threatened our common peace and security.”
The country has been under UN sanctions for its nuclear and missile programs since 2006.
“North Korea has chosen ammunition over food, missiles over people,” Thomas-Greenfield later tweeted. “In doing so, it has threatened the global nuclear non-proliferation system.”
The US ambassador also shared stories with the council of North Koreans fleeing their country for fear of persecution.
According to him, one woman was forced to watch a mother who was executed by shooting in front of her husband and four-year-old child. Another had been captured twice before for trying to escape.
“What was extraordinary was that she decided to run away a third time to save her son,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “But he carried a poison pill with him because if he failed, he would rather die than be imprisoned and tortured again.”
North Korea has long denied human rights abuses against its people and did not attend Friday’s meeting. But Thomas-Greenfield insisted it was important to share defectors’ stories with the council.
“For every horrifying story we hear, there are countless stories we never hear, that never see the light of day. This is obviously by design,” he said.
“The Pyongyang regime does everything it can to hide its atrocities from the outside world. But time and time again, they have failed.”
The Security Council is scheduled to discuss North Korea’s missile launches at its official meeting on Monday.