It is likely that North Korea would not cooperate with it, but investigators could interview thousands of victims of the regime who now live outside the country. It could assemble a body of evidence and provide an assessment that would carry the full weight, authority, and independence of the UN. It would shine a light on North Korea’s crimes, potentially causing the regime to at least temper its abusive behavior. It could lead to the perpetrators of these crimes finally being held to account.
Previous commissions of inquiry include that for the killings in the Darfur region of Sudan, which led to a recommendation to the UN Security Council that the case be referred to the International Criminal Court. That resulted in a warrant for the arrest of Sudan’s leader Omar al-Bashir. Other examples include Syria, where it was concluded that war crimes and crimes against humanity are taking place, and Burundi, Rwanda, and Libya.
A commission of inquiry does not necessarily stop the violations or lead to the perpetrators being brought to justice, but it does at the very least focus the glaring light of the UN on a situation, something long overdue in North Korea.