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UN human rights expert urges halt to rising hostility on Korean peninsula

          An urgent appeal to lower political and military tensions on the Korean peninsula over continued missile tests by the authorities in Pyongyang is being made by a United Nations expert, who says the war of words is already having an impact on citizens. 
          "The recent rise in conflict rhetoric is worsening already critical human rights challenges in North Korea," says the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea, Tomás OJEA QUINTANA. 
          "At a time when the international community needs to come together to protect the rights of people in the DPRK, we are instead witnessing a rise in incitement to armed confrontation," he said. 
          "Statements that feed hatred and polarization do nothing but undermine opportunities to improve the dire situation of ordinary North Koreans," the human rights expert stressed. 
          The appeal by the Special Rapporteur follows a series of declarations and military actions which have fuelled tensions in the region, including the DPRK's programme of nuclear and ballistic missile tests, and the deployment of a United States aircraft carrier group to the area. 
          "The onus is on all of us to lower tensions and restore dialogue, including on human rights. But UN member States, in particular the DPRK and other governments involved in current hostilities, have to realise the great responsibility on their shoulders to preserve peace and stability, in accordance with the UN Charter," Mr. OJEA QUINTANA noted. 
          The DPRK remains subject to international and unilateral sanctions to curb its nuclear programme. Despite this, the country has reportedly conducted five nuclear tests since 2006 and continues to carry out long-range missile launches on a regular basis.