OSCE Asian Partners Contact Group meeting co-hosted by the Republic of Korea and Italy
“Current Situation and Ways Forward on the Korean Peninsula”
Statement by HE Dr Brendon Hammer, Ambassador of Australia to the OSCE
19 July 2019
Thank you, Chair
And also our thanks to Italy and Korea for organising this meeting.
The subject of our discussion here today is of particularly high importance to Australia.
There are a number of security challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region at present but the situation on the Korean Peninsula is the most acute.
It is also true that there are ways in which the current circumstances surrounding North Korea could lead to war and even possibly to war not confined to the Korean Peninsula alone.
The possibility of such conflicts – or of even a much heightened sense of uncertainty and insecurity – so near to the geographic heart of the world’s greatest economic growth engine is cause for global concern.
Australia is committed to working resolutely with our international partners to find a way forward to peace and a way forward to a better life for the long-suffering people of North Korea.
We see dialogue as the only way to achieve permanent peace on the Peninsula and the best way to achieve the international community’s clearly stated demand for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea.
Australia commends the United States initiative to restart talks with North Korea and to continue to seek to build trust and create an environment enabling of negotiations.
And we look forward to North Korea designating a working-level negotiator, and continuing its talks with the United States.
At the same time – and until such talks start to yield concrete results – Australia will work with our international partners to maintain strong pressure on North Korea, and we urge other countries to do likewise, including by fully implementing and enforcing all relevant United Nations Security Council sanctions.
We remain concerned about North Korea’s persistent evasion of these UNSC sanctions, particularly its ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned goods.
We call on North Korea – and on any others involved – to comply fully with all of their obligations under UNSC resolutions.
Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are key to the OSCE’s concept of comprehensive security. Indeed, we know that strengthening and promoting the protection of human rights is at the heart of the OSCE’s work.
So it is highly appropriate to advise this meeting – as we have done previously in Asian Partners Contact Group meetings - that Australia holds longstanding concerns about widespread and systematic human rights abuses committed within North Korea, including its use of the death penalty.
We have recently made those concerns clear once again in the context of North Korea’s Universal Periodic Review and throughout our current tenure on the Human Rights Council.
Australia is committed to working closely with our partners to build a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
We urge Pyongyang to take the steps necessary to make this aim a reality.
We urge it to implement complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation.
And we urge it to stop committing human rights violations against the people of North Korea.