UN Security Council to meet on North Korea rights record

This undated photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on November 23, 2014 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting a combined joint military drill of units under North Korean People's Army

The UN Security Council will meet this month on North Korea's rights record following calls to refer Pyongyang to face crimes against humanity charges, a spokesman said Friday.

Ten of the council's 15 members had asked for the meeting in a letter sent to Chadian Ambassador Cherif Mahamat Zene, whose country holds the council's presidency for December.

North Korea's sole major ally China and Russia did not sign the letter.

Chad agreed to the request and will schedule a meeting, although no date has been set, spokesman Boukar Doungous of the Chadian mission told AFP.

Australia, Britain, Chile, France, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, South Korea, Rwanda and the United States said they were "deeply concerned" by the situation in communist North Korea.

The 10 ambassadors pointed to the "scale and gravity of human rights violations" outlined in a UN commission of inquiry report released in February.

"These violations threaten to have a destabilizing impact on the region and the maintenance of international peace and security," they wrote in the letter obtained by AFP.

The year-long inquiry heard testimony from North Korean exiles and documented a vast network of harsh prison camps holding up to 120,000 people along with cases of torture, summary executions and rape.

Responsibility for these violations lies at the highest level of the secretive North Korean state, according to the inquiry led by Australian judge Michael Kirby, who said that the atrocities amounted to crimes against humanity.

The 10 ambassadors asked that a meeting be held "as early as possible in the month of December."

Other than China and Russia, council members Argentina, Chad and Nigeria also did not join the push for North Korea's rights record to be discussed.

The move came less than three weeks after a landmark resolution was adopted in a General Assembly committee condemning North Korean rights abuses and calling on the Security Council to consider referring Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

UN diplomats said it was likely that China, which has veto power at the council, would block any move to refer North Korea to the ICC.

Both Russia and China voted against the resolution in the General Assembly committee. The measure was adopted by a vote of 111 to 19, with 55 abstentions.

The General Assembly is due to vote on the resolution again this month.