Thursday, December 15, 2016

Quote of the day--from an interview of Mr Quintana see link below--

Q3:  Do you see parallels between the situations in the DPRK (N Korea) and Myanmar? (Burma)
OQ:  Myanmar has been ruled by a military regime for 40 years. During my mandate, starting in 2008 and ending in 2014, throughout those years I could establish that there was at that time a pattern of gross and systematic human rights abuses that entailed crimes against humanity in Myanmar. Therefore, we can draw a parallel between Myanmar and the DPRK since the latest reports, especially those coming from the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK (COI), also showed patterns of human rights abuses in DPRK which were considered by the COI as crimes against humanity.
Let me speak about another parallel: the fact that Myanmar was for many years also an isolated country, isolated from the international community where human rights rapporteurs were unable to visit the country. For a combination of factors, this changed. I had a chance then to visit Myanmar many times; I visited at least nine times. I traveled all over the country. I visited political prisoners, and at the same time, I had the opportunity to meet with the authorities, which is always very relevant when addressing a human rights situation. 
In fact, the ideal of cooperation is central for Special Rapporteurs. Now this seems to be a very critical difference between Myanmar and DPRK, since the authorities of North Korea throughout the years haven’t shown a willingness to cooperate with UN rapporteurs. This, of course, will be a challenge. You may know that when the Human Rights Council of the United Nations appoints Special Rapporteurs, they ask them not only to report to it, but to do this through the principle of cooperation, which is a very important principle in the UN Charter. This has been a critical difficulty in respect to the DPRK. This is a clear difference between Myanmar and DPRK, since Myanmar nowadays has opened to the international community and has even changed from a military regime to a civilian government.
Q4:  How are you planning to approach the particular challenges of the DPRK mandate?
OQ:  The very first element that a Special Rapporteur has to show to the concerned parties, in this case the authorities of the DPRK, is independence and impartiality. Of course, my predecessors and members of the COI have been holding this important attitude. But I’m a new Rapporteur, so the first step is to show independence and impartiality in respect to the situation.
And then there is a question of strategy to try to engage those stakeholders who can somehow influence the DPRK authorities to reconsider their policy towards UN human rights mechanisms including the Rapporteurs, to influence them to start cooperating as it might be to their benefit because cooperation means a willingness to offer assistance, to offer help, in addressing human rights problems. This is something that is difficult. Don’t forget that rapporteurs have mandates from the Human Rights Council for six years, so it is a necessity to think in not only the short term but also the long term for strategy. Bearing in mind the importance of cooperation, it’s my main task to provide a voice to those who suffer human rights abuses on the ground.