Country-by-country voting records are available for download above.

What do these resolutions say?

The text of these General Assembly Resolutions has varied from year to year, and have tended to use increasingly strong language over time. However, each resolution has expressed strong concern about or condemnation of systemic human rights abuses in North Korea, as well as concern about the humanitarian situation in the country. The resolutions have also urged the government of the DPRK to take action to improve the human rights situation in the country, and to cooperate with international mechanisms intended to promote human rights in North Korea.

The 2015 resolution, adopted in the wake of a major report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on North Korean human rights, included for the first time language encouraging the UN Security Council to refer the human rights situation in North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC). An amendment to remove this language from the resolution, offered by Cuba, was rejected by a vote of 77 General Assembly Members against, 40 for, and 50 abstaining. The 2016 resolution maintained similar language regarding the ICC, and also included a reference to the exploitation of workers sent abroad from North Korea.

What has been the North Korean response to these resolutions?

The North Korean government has strongly condemned international criticism of its human rights record. Pyongyang has typically characterized critical General Assembly resolutions as unlawful, U.S.-led plots to interfere in the country's internal affairs, and has also criticized the governments of the United States and South Korea for their human rights records. Additionally, the DPRK government has attacked the truthfulness and character of defectors who have testified about human rights abuses in North Korea, calling them "human scum" and criminals who are being paid to slander the regime.

Why are there no votes for some years?

General Assembly Resolutions on North Korean human rights were adopted without a vote in 2012, 2013, and 2016. However, eight countries (China, Cuba, DPRK, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela) disassociated themselves from the 2012 resolution; seven countries (Belarus, China, DPRK, Iran, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela) disassociated themselves from the 2013 resolution; and five countries (China, Cuba, DPRK, Iran, and Russia) dissassociated themselves from the 2016 resolution. 

What other actions has the UN taken in regard to North Korean human rights?

Resolutions on North Korea's human rights record have also been voted upon from 2003-2005 within the UN's Commission on Human Rights (the predecessor to the UN Human Rights Council, or HRC). The General Assembly's Third Committee has also voted on draft human rights resolutions prior to votes being taken in the General Assembly. (UN Member States' votes in the Third Committee have generally been similar to their votes in the General Assembly, although with some variations.)

A 2004 resolution by the UN Commission on Human Rights established the position of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the DPRK. The Special Rapporteur is tasked with investigating and reporting on human rights in North Korea, and the North Korean government's compliance with its obligations under international law.

In 2013, the HRC established a Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK. The three-member Commission's final report, issued in 2014, found that "crimes against humanity are ongoing" in the DPRK, and recommended that the UN ensure that those responsible be held to account, including possibly through a Security Council referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court. After the Commission's report was issued, a UN Human Rights Office in Seoul was established to document and monitor the human rights situation in North Korea.

While the DPRK government has generally not engaged directly with these UN human rights mechanisms, in 2014 it indicated that it would accept some of the recommendations made through the HRC's Universal Periodic Review process.

Additionally, in 2013 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced a "Human Rights Up Front" initiative, with the goal of making human rights protection a system-wide responsibility for organizations across the UN system. While this initiative is being implemented gradually, it may influence the way in which UN humanitarian and development agencies operating in North Korea conduct their work.