The United States, Britain, France and six other countries today requested a meeting of the UN Security Council on human rights abuses in North Korea, which is already under fire for its missile and nuclear tests.
The meeting, expected to be held on December 11, will mark the fourth time since 2014 that the council holds an annual meeting on North Korea's dismal rights record.
Italy, Japan, Senegal, Sweden, Ukraine and Uruguay joined the three permanent council members in requesting the meeting, according to a letter seen by AFP.
China, North Korea's ally, has in the past sought to block any discussion on human rights in North Korea, arguing that the Human Rights Council in Geneva was the forum for those concerns, and not the Security Council.
But China has all three times failed to win a procedural vote, and the meeting was allowed to continue.
The UN General Assembly is also expected this month to adopt a resolution condemning North Korea for human rights violations and for conducting missile and nuclear tests while its people suffer from severe hunger.
Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho, who holds the council presidency in December, told reporters that it was important to understand the "nexus" between the human rights situation in North Korea and nuclear weapons development.
North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test this year and test-fired a series of advanced missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, even as 18 million North Koreans, or 70 per cent of the population, are struggling with food shortages.