UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) - North Korea said Friday it will not send a representative to a UN Security Council meeting next week to discuss the country's human rights record and calls to refer Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court.
The 15-member council will on Monday hold its the first-ever meeting on the situation in North Korea, despite objections from China - Pyongyang's key ally - and Russia.
"We cannot recognise the Security Council meeting. Its mandate is not human rights," said political counsellor Kim Song from the North Korean mission at the United Nations.
"We will not attend," he told AFP.
Under UN procedures, North Korea can send a representative to the meeting of the top UN body and diplomats had said they were hoping for a face-to-face discussion with Pyongyang's envoy.
The meeting will be held a few days after the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on the Security Council to consider referring North Korea to the ICC for crimes against humanity.
Two top UN officials for political affairs and human rights will brief the council, but no decision on a referral to the ICC will be taken on Monday.
Ten of the 15 council members pushed for North Korea to be put on the agenda, but Russia and China argued that rights concerns should be put before the UN Human Rights Council and not the Security Council.
The talks will focus mainly on rights violations but council members could raise US accusations that North Korea staged a cyber attack on Sony pictures that exposed embarrassing e-mails and scuttled the release of a movie.
Up until now, the council had zeroed in on North Korea's nuclear programme as a threat to international peace, but the scope has widened to human rights following the release of a UN commission of inquiry report.
The year-long inquiry heard testimony from North Korean exiles and documented a vast network of harsh prison camps holding up to 120,000 people along with cases of torture, summary executions and rape.