U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Tuesday issued a clear call for action from the U.N. Security Council on human rights abuses in North Korea and Syria.
Haley's comments came as she chaired a meeting of the Security Council focused on "maintenance of international peace and security."
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Haley argued that human rights, international peace, and security cannot be disentangled. She used both North Korea and Syria as examples, while simultaneously critiquing the U.N.'s inaction in both hotspots of international instability.
On North Korea, Haley explained that human rights failures lay at the heart of the regime's military threat to international peace.
"Systematic human rights violations help underwrite the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programs," she said. "The government forces many of its citizens, including political prisoners, to work in life threatening conditions in coal mines and other dangerous industries to finance the regime's military."
"This Security Council must devote considerable efforts to addressing North Korea's increasing threats to international peace," Haley asserted.
Haley then explained the direct relationship between human rights abuses and the conflict raging in Syria. She recounted how "in 2011, a group of 12-to-15-year-old teenage boys spray painted a message on the wall of their school" and were violently punished.
"These children were brutally beaten, had their fingernails ripped out by grown men in government prisons, and tortured before they were returned to their parents," Haley said.
Haley argued that outrage over this event eventually led to a cycle of protests and crackdowns that gradually evolved into the current conflict and refugee crisis.
"What began with a sort of human rights violations and abuses that this council has been reluctant to address, has become a security issue that we are focused to address, repeatedly," Haley said.
"It is a prime example of why we should take human rights violations and abuses more seriously from their beginning," she concluded.
Haley's speech comes after President Trump ordered military strikes on Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, and as tensions between the United States and North Korea remain high.