On 21 March 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) (during its 22nd Session) established the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) (North Korea).  The Commission was established by HRC Resolution A/HRC/RES/22/13.  This mandated the COI to investigate the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in the DPRK so as to ensure full accountability, in particular, for violations that may amount to crimes against humanity.

The President of the HRC in 2013, (Ambassador H.E. Mr Remigiusz A. Henczel, Poland) on 7 May 2013, named Michael Kirby of Australia and Sonja Biserko of Serbia as Commissioners of the COI.  They joined Mr Marzuki Darusman, past Attorney-General of Indonesia, who is the second holder of the mandate from the HRC as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK.  Michael Kirby was also appointed as Chair of the COI.  The Commissioners serve in a non-remunerated, independent, expert capacity.  They took up their duties in the month following their appointment.  The COI was supported by a secretariat of 9 experienced human rights officials provided by the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).  However, once appointed, the Secretariat was wholly independent of the OHCHR, as were the Commissioners. 

The COI received no cooperation from DPRK which declared that the creation of the body was a hostile political act.  This notwithstanding, the COI repeatedly sort to engage with DPRK.  As Chair, Michael delivered an Oral Update on the work of the COI both to the HRC in Geneva in August 2013 and to the 3rd Committee of the General Assembly in New York in October 2013.

The Report of the COI is to be delivered to the Human Rights Council in Geneva at its current session expected to be on 17 or 18 March 2014.  Meantime, the draft Report (which is being translated into the UN languages) has been published online in Geneva in its original English language version. 

Click here for access to the report

Watch the video on ID Commission of Inquiry on DPRK - 31st Meeting 25th Regular Session of Human Rights Council

"Ten Lessons from the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights Violations  in North Korea" - The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG