The U.N. Human Rights Council will hear results of a preliminary study of the North's abuses, including mass starvation, prison camps where upwards of 200,000 are suspected of being held and no recourse or judicial system for those accused of crimes.
Marzuki Darusman, the U.N. investigator who prepared the initial report, said the North's repression of its citizens has been overshadowed by concerns over the nation's nuclear program, The New York Times said Sunday.
Others said any formal investigation is better than nothing.
"We are in effect ramping up international political pressure on this unparalleled, systemwide failure in respect to human rights," said Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, the American ambassador to the Human Rights Council. "We're hoping that even if it doesn't crack the whole system that on some of these issues we might see some opening and some change because of this pressure."