Pillay, with the backing of 40 international human rights groups, is urging the Japanese delegation -- Japan is considered the international leader on North Korean human rights abuses -- to sponsor a resolution authorizing an international inquiry into alleged abuses visited on the North Korean people by the autocratic regime governing the country, The New York Times said Monday.
Pillay said North Korean political prisons house 200,000 inmates, most jailed for peaceful protests of the government's rule. Inmates are subjected to slave labor, starvation, rape and summary executions, she said.
Human rights advocates criticized the international approach to North Korea as solely focused on containing the nation's nuclear program.
"What we are trying to do is put human rights as a priority in the international debate on North Korea," said Juliette de Rivero, Geneva director of Human Rights Watch, one of more than 40 organizations in the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea that are backing the inquiry. "Right now it's nearly invisible."
Resolutions condemning North Korea passed the U.N. General Assembly by consensus in 2012 -- notably without objection from China, North Korea's closest ally.