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Goal 10
"Reduce inequality within and among countries"

The international community has achieved considerable results in the process of eradicating poverty. Efforts are in full swing to reduce inequality in the least developed countries, inland developing countries, and small island developing countries. However, inequality continues in the areas, for example, health, education, and asset management.

There is a growing consensus that economic growth is not comprehensive and that it is not sufficient to reduce poverty unless it includes sustainable development at the economic, social, and environmental levels. Fortunately, income inequality has decreased between countries and within countries. At this point, per capita income from 60 out of 94 countries with data has increased faster than the national average, and there has been some progress in creating favorable conditions for exports from underdeveloped countries.

In order to reduce inequality, universal policies should be adopted, in principle, and the needs of the vulnerable and underprivileged should be focused. In addition to increasing the voting rate of developing countries within the IMF, tax-free treatment and strong exports in developing countries should continue. Finally, technological innovation can help reduce the high remittance costs of migrant workers.

10.1 By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average

10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status

10.3 Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard

10.4 Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality

10.5 Improve the regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions and strengthen the implementation of such regulations

10.6 Ensure enhanced representation and voice for developing countries in decision-making in global international economic and financial institutions in order to deliver more effective, credible, accountable and legitimate institutions

10.7 Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies

10.a Implement the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, in accordance with World Trade Organization agreements

10.b Encourage official development assistance and financial flows, including foreign direct investment, to States where the need is greatest, in particular least developed countries, African countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their national plans and programmes

10.c By 2030, reduce to less than 3 per cent the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5 per cent

SDG 10 and the UN Human Rights Mechanisms

      1st UPR Cycle

      2nd UPR Cycle

      3rd UPR Cycle

Recommending State
Further fulfil the internationally taken obligations as well as join new human rights international instruments
Consider the ratification of international human rights instruments to which it is still not a party
Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
Accede to international human rights instruments to which it is not yet a party
Continue to strengthen its domestic legal framework and implement its international human rights obligations
Strengthen the work on aligning the national legislation and legal practice with the international obligations of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on the protection of human rights
Russian Federation
Promulgate more laws and regulations on economic, social and cultural rights, to improve the legal framework concerning the exercise of human rights
Continue to fulfil its obligations under the international human rights instruments
Fulfil its commitments under ratified fundamental human rights instruments
Take measures to ensure international humanitarian aid reaches the most vulnerable and needy
Work closely with humanitarian agencies to ensure their free and unimpeded access to all populations in need and that humanitarian aid is distributed transparently and reaches the most vulnerable citizens
New Zealand
Secure unlimited access and entirely satisfactory monitoring conditions for humanitarian organisations
Continue its cooperation and dialogue with the relevant international organisations with the aim to address the socio-economic needs of its people
Continue its efforts in providing gender equal rights
Strengthen efforts to ensure women's representation in influential posts in national and regional government
Ensure women an equal treatment with respect to men, especially with regard to the rights to food, education and work
Continue to consolidate socio-economic measures to minimize the gap between rural and urban areas
Continue its efforts to fulfil the economic, social and cultural rights of all
Ensure equal access to social and economic rights for all citizens
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Continue actions to ensure that children in the most disadvantaged areas enjoy the same benefits in education and health enjoyed in urban areas
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
Continue to make efforts to ensure that children with disabilities and those without parents fully enjoy their right to health, education and other social and cultural rights
Sri Lanka
Continue to consider the possibility of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea acceding to other international human rights treaties (Belarus);
Consider ratifying the international human rights instruments to which it is not yet a party (Plurinational State of Bolivia); Consider ratifying other core human rights instruments, to which it has not become a party (Indonesia);
Plurinational State of Bolivia, Indonesia
Consider ratifying the main international human rights instruments to which it is not yet a party
Côte d’Ivoire
Continue the efforts to accede to all core human rights instruments
Ratify all the core human rights instruments to which it is not yet a party
Consider acceding to the core international human rights treaties to which it is not yet a party
Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Continue ratifying the remaining core human rights conventions
Accede to the core international human rights treaties to which it is not yet a State party and thoroughly implement its obligations under the treaties to which it is a party
State of Palestine
Ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
Operate the National Committee for the Implementation of the International Human Rights Treaties with a view to achieving tangible progress in the implementation of the human rights treaties to which the country is a party
Ensure human and financial resources and autonomy for the National Committee for the Implementation of the International Human Rights Treaties to enable it to effectively promote human rights in the country
Fulfil its commitments under ratified human rights instruments, including the submission of outstanding reports
Strengthen the engagement with United Nations human rights treaty bodies, and improve coordination at the national level to ensure implementation of the recommendations
Continue to take further legislative measures in the promotion and protection of human rights to ensure the full enjoyment by its citizens
Lao People's Democratic Republic
Continue to bring national legislation into line with international human rights standards
Russian Federation
Continue the efforts to further perfect the domestic legal framework for the protection and promotion of human rights with a view to ensuring full enjoyment by citizens of their vested rights
Syrian Arab Republic
Work on harmonizing national legislation with the provisions of international human rights treaties
Step up the efforts to take legislative and practical measures for the protection and promotion of human rights
Continue efforts for the protection and promotion of human rights in line with international human rights norms and standards
Sustain its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights
Strengthen coordination at the national level to ensure effective implementation of the human rights conventions to which the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a State party
Increase efforts to strengthen national capacities for the promotion and protection of human rights
Implement in an effective manner its Strategy for National Economic Development, and its Strategies for the Development of the Health Sector and for the Development of Education, for a better standard of living for its population
Continue efforts for the implementation of the Five-Year Strategy for National Economic Development (2016-2020)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Establish closer relations with African people and persons of African descent in order to foster a better understanding and more complete appreciation of the culture, history and contributions to humanity by persons of African descent; for example, by organizing cultural exchanges in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Foster human rights awareness-raising activities among citizens
Facilitate awareness-raising activities and training programmes on human rights
Adopt measures in the legislative sphere to combat discrimination based on social class, religion or political opinion
Continue to promote sustainable economic and social development in order to provide a solid basis for its people to better enjoy all human rights
Comply with its obligations arising from human rights treaties that it ratified
Take concrete action to increase the recruitment of female officers and strengthen their roles in the policymaking agencies
Develop collaboration between the National Committee for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and relevant national institutions of other countries in the region
Make further efforts for the protection of persons with disabilities
Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Further protect the rights of persons with disabilities, including its participation in the review by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Republic of Korea
Adopt more measures to allow persons with disabilities to participate more widely in society, such as eliminating physical barriers in public spaces and increasing awareness-raising campaigns to remove stigma about persons with disabilities
Recommending State
Continue its efforts in ensuring economic and social rights
Viet Nam
Continue to promote and protect economic, social and cultural rights of its people, with greater emphasis on economic development
Sri Lanka
Respect and ensure the rights set forth in CRC of each child without discrimination of any kind
Take necessary measures to ensure the right of a child to life and development without discrimination of any kind
Invest sufficient resources to promote and protect the principle of equality in the fields of work, education and health
Provide all children with equal opportunities to study and give them access to higher education based on their talent and individual capability
Continue engaging members of the international donor community in capacity-building in the field of economic and social rights
Consider acceding to ICERD and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICRMW)
Consider the possibility of acceding to ICERD and CAT
Russian Federation
Act on its commitment to dialogue and cooperation by timely submitting all treaty body reports, by accepting outstanding requests by special procedures to visit the country and by engaging actively with OHCHR to ensure compatibility of national legislation with its international treaty obligations
Ensure that government policy on access to food, healthcare and health services, including the Public Distribution System, is free of discrimination and political considerations
Take immediate measures to end the systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations described in the report of the COI - including violations of the freedoms of thought, expression and religion, multiple forms of discrimination, violations of the freedom of movement and residence, violations of the right to food, arbitrary detention, torture and executions, and abductions and enforced disappearances from other countries
Abolish all unconstitutional discriminatory practices connected with the songbun system and terminate the punishment based on collective guilt
End discrimination against citizens on the basis of the so-called "core", "wavering" and "hostile" social classes and of political connections
Bring an end to discrimination, in particular discrimination based on the songbun system, guaranteeing the principle of equality and non-discrimination among its citizens
Address the systematic discrimination that underpins human rights violations, including by taking immediate action to abolish the songbun class system
End all forms of discrimination, in particular the songbun system, which discriminates against citizens according to their family background and loyalty to the regime
End the songbun social classification system and related discrimination
End all forms of discrimination, including on the basis of religion, social class, political view and gender
Put an end to practices of segregation and exclusion in providing care services to persons with disabilities
Costa Rica

SDG 10 and the North Korean Government

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As a self-proclaimed Socialist State, the DPRK purports the social, economic, and political inclusion of all its people in its Socialist Constitution. In its first National Report submitted ahead of the Universal Periodic Review in 2009, the DPRK stated that, “equality is fully ensured based on unity and cooperation between persons. No citizen is discriminated on the basis of his/her race, sex, language, religion, education, occupation and position and property, and all citizens exercise equal rights in all fields of the State and public activities.” Additionally, when it comes to the adoption of policies to achieve greater equality, the DPRK stated that, “there are, in the State policies, laws and regulations, provisions favouring women’s interests over men’s but no discriminatory provisions whatsoever, and all women are enjoying equal rights with men in political, economic and cultural matters, as well as in family.” In regards to the facilitation of migration and mobility of people, the DPRK has claimed that there is no problem related to minorities or indigenous groups as “the DPRK is a homogeneous nation.” Also in its 2021 VNR report, the DPRK once more asserted that the country guarantees the equal rights for its nationals by stating that “The DPRK provides everyone with the rights to social, economic and political inclusion to the full.” 

The DPRK has been outspoken about the inequality between countries, stating that, “all anachronistic and unjust economic sanctions against developing countries, which hindered economic and social development and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, should be ended.” Specifically in regards to the need for enhanced representation in decision-making in global international economic and financial institutions, the DPRK stated in 2019 that, “since the current international financial and trade system was dominated by a few privileged countries, international cooperation could not truly contribute to the development of developing countries, as any cooperation would end in political domination and subordination,” going on to state that, “disparities should be addressed, in particular, by providing investment and infrastructure for those in rural and remote areas.”

SDG 10 and North Korean Escapees

“Discrimination based on social status and family background definitely affects the judicial process. For example, the accused are immune from prosecutions if they have received a teaching message from Kim Il Sung in the past. When I was serving in the army, my senior killed a soldier in his troop. But he was not sent to prison because his younger brother had met Kim Jong Il. If the accused contributed to the state, they were exempted from being punished. Even their relatives (including cousins) will be exempted. Their family members, at least, are free from any charges against them.”

[Interview by NKDB in 2017 (NKDB Unified Human Rights Database)]

“My eldest daughter came to South Korea with me. Her name is Kang 00. Originally, I didn’t plan to come to South Korea, but my daughter couldn’t go to university because of me. In North Korea, children who are from divorced families cannot go to the military or university. She was supposed to go to medical college, but my ex-husband and I had divorced that year, so she couldn’t go. My daughter could have gone to the Kim Kisung High school which only picks elites, but she couldn’t go because her physique was not good enough. Those kids who study well in middle school are selected by the government to receive the Kim Il Sung prize. If you have it, you can go to whichever university you want. My daughter’s name was on the candidates’ list, but because of my divorce, she couldn’t get it. It was almost graduation at the end of May at the end of the second semester.”

[Interview by NKDB in 2015 (NKDB Unified Human Rights Database)]

“I had a reason for not entering medical school. I had one friend, and I was very close to her. We shared a lot of things, and she was the really clever one. She was at the top of her class. However, she couldn’t get into secondary school, because of her father. Her father used to be a South Korean security guard. She wasn’t admitted because her father helped the Korean Army in a village during the war. This really got to me, and I still can’t forget it. She was smarter than our teacher. Her name is Jeong 00, and she wanted to study medicine. She would talk to me about the human body and had memorized more than 200 human bones. If she had studied, she would have been a great person. When the teacher was wrong about something, she would come out and explain it, and she was good at every subject. In the end, she went to work on a farm as farmer.”

[Interview by NKDB in 2015 (NKDB Unified Human Rights Database)]

“In North Korea people with disabilities do not go to school. It doesn’t seem that they are forbidden to do so, but rather they do not think about going to school. If they go to school then they’ll suffer from discrimination, so they don’t go.”

[Interview by NKDB in 2017 (NKDB Unified Human Rights Database)]

The people in North Korea who are allowed to meet their separated family members living in South Korea must have a good family background. In cases like my family’s [being the descendant of a South Korean prisoner of war] they are afraid that we’ll run away so they say [to the South Korean authorities] we’re not there [in North Korea]. Even if we are still alive, they deny it.”

[Interview by NKDB in 2017 (NKDB Unified Human Rights Database)] 

SDG 10 and the International Community

The State-managed Public Distribution System was created to provide meals for virtually the entire population, however over the course of the Arduous March the system collapsed and food rations are now only reserved for a limited group of people. As a result, the informal economic sector and marketplaces have flourished in recent years. Regarding this, the KINU pointed out that this growing independence from the state has meant there are fewer cases of starvation and poverty in North Korea, but it has also led to a deepening income gap in North Korea. According to the North Korea-UNICEF MICS, 60% of urban dwellers belong to the top 40% of the wealth percentile while only 8.8% of rural residents fall under the same group. As North Korea develops, the inequality deepens between urban and rural areas, which can be seen as only 55.6% of North Korean households have drinking water pipes and more people live in apartments compared to those who live in lower quality homes.

At the most basic level, the socio-political classification system, known as ‘songbun,’ has led to pervasive discrimination and growing inequalities between groups in North Korea. The ‘songbun’ system divides the North Korean people into three broad classes: core, wavering and hostile. According to the UN COI report, based on their class, North Koreans face inequalities within society in regards to residency, occupation, access to food, health care, education, and other services. NKDB’s research has found that in combination with economic resources, discrimination based on one’s ‘songbun’ determines one’s chances to advance to tertiary education and chances of being admitted to specific universities.  Additionally, while in the past it was those who had family originally from South Korea who faced discrimination, NKDB has found those whose family have defected to South Korea also face additional human rights violations such as surveillance and wire-tapping.

In addition to the inequalities that arise due to ‘songbun,’ human rights reports have found that there are major obstacles blocking the road for equal opportunities for women and people with disabilities. In the absence of legislation ensuring the civil rights of people with disabilities, discriminatory practices that amount to serious human rights violations were routinely committed by DPRK authorities against groups with specific disabilities, such as the freedom of movement and residence.

NKDB has found that inequalities exist not only in income, but also in the face of the law. The ICCPR, of which the DPRK is a party to, stipulates that an accused is entitled to the equal protection of the law without being discriminated against on any grounds, including social origin or birth. Yet in NKDB’s research on judicial proceedings, interviewees testified on the systematic discrimination on the basis of social status and family background in the judicial system of the DPRK.

There is a growing divide between North Korea and the rest of the world as the state lives up to its name of “Hermit Kingdom” and remains closed to the world. As a result, the DPRK still lacks representation and a voice in decision-making in global economic and financial institutions.

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