Human Rights Watch called on the U.N. Human Rights Council to vote for an independent investigation into North Korea abuses when it meets in February.
Julie de Rivero, an advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said North Korea has managed to hide a system of systematic abuses behind "bluster and defiance."
"It is time for the U.N. Human Rights Council to respond and compile a formal, detailed record on the rights abuses of the North Korean state, including political prison camps and abductions of foreign nationals," she said in a statement from Geneva.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay issued a similar plea last week. She described the country's human rights record as "deplorable," adding there may be as much as 200,000 people held in the country's political prison camps.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's speech New Year's Day was seen as conciliatory, though Pillay said much of the attention on the regime in Pyongyang has focused almost exclusively on its controversial nuclear program.