A UN panel has passed a resolution condemning North Korea's human rights abuses and calling on the regime to immediately stop the violations and improve its human rights conditions.
The Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, which oversees humanitarian issues, adopted the resolution by consensus on Tuesday.
The resolution condemned the "long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights in North Korea."
It expressed deep concerns over the North's human rights abuses, pointing to the UN Commission of Inquiry's 2014 report which details abuses ranging from torture and rape to public executions and retaliation against asylum seekers repatriated from abroad.
The resolution also urged the UN Security Council to take appropriate action to sanction those responsible for the violations and refer the North's human rights situation to the International Criminal Court.
This year, the resolution newly called on the North Korean government to resume reunions of families separated by the Korean War and provide foreign detainees with access to diplomatic missions and other necessary arrangements to "confirm their status and to communicate with their families."
The resolution is expected to be formally adopted at a plenary General Assembly meeting next month.
It would mark the 13th straight year for the General Assembly to adopt a North Korean human rights resolution.