An international investigation that found suspected crimes against humanity and other abuses in North Korea has been renewed for another year, after a testy exchange between diplomats for the communist nation and the US.

The United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday approved the resolution, sponsored by the European Union and Japan, on a vote of 30-6, with 11 abstentions.

Greece's UN ambassador, Alexandros Alexandris, speaking for the EU, said nations were "gravely concerned" by suspected crimes discovered so far.

But North Korea's UN envoy, So Se Pyong, said the resolution's sponsors had turned the Council "into a stage of political confrontation."

The head of the US delegation, Paula Schriefer, interrupted the North Korean envoy repeatedly to complain he was straying off-topic and inappropriately accusing other nations of crimes.

A Commission of Inquiry was established by a unanimous decision of the Council in March 2013 to “investigate the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea . . .  with a view to ensuring full accountability, in particular where these violations may amount to crimes against humanity.”

The Commission published its report last month, with evidence of torture, rape and murder inside the country's labour camps where political prisoners are held.

Source: AP