Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Political Prisons

IBA War Crimes Committee
Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Political Prisons

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The Role of NGOs in Promoting Accountability for Crimes Against Humanity: The Case of North Korea (14 March 2018)

IBA side event during the UN Human Rights Council 37th Regular Session From left to right: Judge Mark Harmon; Gregory Kehoe; Federica D’Alessandra; Natacha Bracq

IBA War Crimes Committee statement delivered at the UN Human Rights Council 37th Regular Session on 12 March 2018


UN side event- DPRK and CAH Additional Items
Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Political Prisons

Panel discussion on Inquiry Report

Media and international references

A selection of media coverage

International references

Statements from the WCC on the DPRK to the 37th Session of the Human Rights Council


Navanethem “Navi” Pillay (Chair)

Ms Pillay formerly served as a judge of the High Court of Natal, South Africa, judge and president of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, judge on the Appeals Division of the International Criminal Court, and as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2008-2014). She practiced as a lawyer in South Africa from 1965 until 1995. Currently, Ms Pillay serves as President of the International Commission against the Death Penalty. Ms Pillay graduated from the University of Natal with a BA and an LLB. She later attended Harvard Law School, obtaining an LLM and a Doctor of Juridical Science degree.

Thomas Buergenthal

Thomas Buergenthal served as judge on the International Court of Justice from 2000 until 2010. From 1979 to 1991, he served as judge, vice president and president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. In the 1990s, he was a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN Truth Commission for El Salvador, and vice chairman of the Claims Resolution Tribunal for Dormant Accounts in Switzerland. He has also served on the Ethics Commission of the International Olympic Committee, as chairman of the Committee of Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and as President of the Costa Rica - based Inter-American Institute of Human Rights.

Buergenthal is the Lobingier Professor Emeritus Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence at the George Washington University Law School in Washington, DC, where he taught international law and international human rights law between 1989 to 2000 and 2010 to 2015. He served as Dean of the Washington College of Law of the American University from 1980 to 1985 and held endowed professorships at the University of Texas Law School (Austin) and the Emory University Law School.

Buergenthal graduated from Bethany College, West Virginia. He received his JD degree from the New York University Law School, and his LLM and SJD. degrees from the Harvard Law School. He has received honorary degrees from various American, European and Latin American universities. Among his many awards are the 2008 Justice Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation, the ASIL’s Golar Butcher Prize for Human Rights, and the 2015 Elie Wiesel Award of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Buergenthal is the author of more than a dozen books and numerous articles on international law and human rights subjects. His memoir, A Lucky Child, describes his experiences as a child in various Nazi camps, including Auschwitz.

Mark Brian Harmon

Judge Harmon served as the International Co-Investigating Judge at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) from October 2012 to August 2015. Before joining the ECCC, Mr Harmon worked as a senior trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for 17 years. He was the lead prosecutor in the Krajišnik, Krstic, Blaškic and Perisic trials and in the guilty plea cases of Plavšic, Deronjic, Bralo, Erdemovic and Cešic. Mr Harmon received his JD degree in 1971 from the University of California Hastings College of the Law and has been a member of the California Bar Association since 1972. Prior to working at the ICTY, he served for 10 years as a federal prosecutor in the United States Department of Justice in Washington, DC in both the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division and in the Environmental Crimes Section and was a deputy public defender in Santa Clara County, California for 12 years. Mr Harmon has instructed law students at the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute and at other institutions as well as authored publications on environmental criminal prosecutions and aspects of ICTY procedure and rules of evidence.

Press Release:

A new report, authored by three internationally renowned judges – Navanethem ‘Navi’ Pillay, Thomas Buergenthal and Mark B Harmon – under the auspices of the International Bar Association (IBA) War Crimes Committee, calls on the international community to vest in the International Criminal Court (ICC) or a special international tribunal the power to investigate crimes against humanity committed in North Korea’s political prisons, and to hold culpable parties accountable for their crimes, including ‘Supreme Leader’ Kim Jong-un, members of the Workers’ Party of Korea and its Politburo, internal security officials and prison guards...Read full press release

IBA War Crimes Commitee:

The IBA’s War Crimes Committee is the only IBA committee of its kind focused specifically on international criminal law. The committee works alongside the IBA Human Rights Institute to promote justice around the world and uphold the principle of accountability. Visit the IBA War Crimes Committee homepage