Geneva — The United Nations' top human rights body unanimously approved Thursday a formal probe into North Korea for possible crimes against humanity.
The 47-nation U.N. Human Rights Council signed off on the resolution backed by the U.S., Japan and the European Union that authorizes an investigation into what U.N. officials describe as suspected widespread and systematic violations of human rights in North Korea.
Japan's ambassador, Takashi Okada, denounced the abduction of foreign nationals and other disappearances in North Korea, and said the aim of the investigation is to "guide the international community in addressing this situation from an independent and impartial stand point."
The vote paves the way for the creation of a "Commission of Inquiry" for one year with three members and calls on Pyongyang to cooperate with that team of independent experts, which will include U.N. special rapporteur Marzuki Darusman.
However, North Korea's U.N. Ambassador in Geneva, So Se Pyong, denounced the move, calling the resolution "no more than an instrument that serves the political purposes of the hostile forces in their attempt to discredit the image of the DPRK and to change the socialist system chosen and developed by our people."
He was referring to North Korea by the initials of its formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
In 22 previous reports over the past nine years and 16 resolutions adopted by the U.N. General Assembly, the world body of 193 nations has again and again condemned North Korea's human rights record.