The United States accused China on Friday of attempting to hide North Korea’s atrocities from the world by blocking the webcast of an informal meeting of United Nations Security Council members on accusations of human rights abuses by Pyongyang.
“Some council members are all too willing to shield the regime from accountability,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the meeting in a veiled reference to China and Russia.
China and Russia argue that the 15-member Security Council, which is charged with maintaining international peace and security, should not discuss human rights issues. They say such meetings should be confined to other U.N. bodies like the U.N. Human Rights Council or the U.N. General Assembly.
Chinese diplomat Xing Jisheng said the meeting, co-hosted by the United States and Albania, was “not constructive in any way.”
“Instead of easing tension it may rather intensify the conflict and therefore is an irresponsible move. Using U.N. WebTV for live broadcast is a waste of U.N. resources,” he said.
All 15 council members have to agree to allow such informal discussions to be webcast by the United Nations, and diplomats said it was rare for a broadcast to be blocked. Despite China’s move, the meeting on Friday was still public and media attended.
Thomas-Greenfield said North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs were “inextricably linked to the regime’s human rights abuses.”
“The pursuit of weapons of mass destruction always trumps human rights and humanitarian needs of its people,” she said. “(North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un has chosen ammunition instead of nutrition, missiles over humankind.”
North Korea did not take part in the meeting. Its mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment.
Pyongyang rejects accusations of human rights abuses and blames sanctions for a dire humanitarian situation in North Korea. The country has been under U.N. sanctions over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs since 2006.
“The feigned hypocritical concern of the West about human rights in North Korea isn’t fooling anybody,” Russian diplomat Stepan Kuzmenkov told the meeting. “Everybody knows full well that the U.S. uses human rights to settle scores with governments not to their liking.”
The U.N. Security Council is likely to hold a formal meeting on Monday, diplomats said, over North Korea’s launch on Thursday of an intercontinental ballistic missile.