The Nexus between Arms Control and Human Rights

in the Case of North Korea.


Implications for the human rights agenda



Katja Creutz

The exceptionally poor human rights record of North Korea has for long remained eclipsed by the issue of arms control. The Commission of Inquiry report of 2014 nevertheless centre-staged human rights, and there is increasing evidence to the fact that the two issues are connected. The international community has nevertheless been divided over whether to link human rights and arms control or not, in addition to by what means North Korea should be contained. This article seeks to explore international responses to the North Korean human rights situation from a normative-descriptive approach. The article will explore the rise of softer security concerns next to traditional ones by tracing the building of human rights momentum within the UN. This will be followed by analysis on the nexus between the issue of arms control or broader security concerns and human rights. The risks and opportunities involved in connecting the two subject matters will thereafter be considered from the prism of human rights, after which strategies for future international responses will be discussed. It will be argued that the human rights momentum built in the aftermath of the 2014 Commission of Inquiry report has  laced human rights firmly at the centre of international attention. Moreover, the placing of North Korean human rights on the Security Council agenda was a step with longterm political and legal implications.

About the Author
Dr Katja Creutz is an international lawyer who works for the Global Security Programme at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Her main fields of expertise are international law and global governance, especially issues of international responsibility. Dr Creutz is also an Affiliated Research Fellow at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki. The article builds upon a previous text of the author, ‘Human Rights in the Shadow of Nuclear Arms Control’ in Sinkkonen 2016a.
Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. From Hard to Soft Security Concerns: The Rise of Human Rights
2.1. Traditional Precedence of Arms Control over Human Rights
2.2. The Building of a Human Rights Momentum in the UN
2.2.1. North Korea in the Multilateral Human Rights System
2.2.2. Centre-staging Human Rights: The 2014 COI Report and Its Aftermath
3. The Link between Human Rights and Arms Control
3.1. A principled and practical link
3.2. Implications of Linkage for Human Rights: Risk and Opportunity
3.2.1. Risk of Securitization
3.2.2. Production of Legal Effects
3.3. Future Strategies
4. Conclusions

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