GENEVA (AP) _ North Korea continues to be bound by human rights conventions despite its effort to pull out of a key accord, the head of the U.N. Human Rights Committee stressed today.

``It can't pull out,'' committee chairwoman Christine Chanet told The Associated Press.

North Korea announced its withdrawal from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in August, miffed over a U.N. resolution expressing concern about ``grave violations of human rights'' in the secretive Stalinist outpost.

The committee, a panel of 18 independent rights experts that periodically reviews countries' adherence to the accord, passed a resolution this week pointing out that the treaty contains no withdrawal provisions.

U.N. officials said the committee was determined not to let North Korea set a precedent. The panel said ``it was not a mere oversight'' that the covenant contains no mention of or provision for a country's withdrawal.

North Korea ratified the accord in 1981. Its announcement in August marked the first time a country said it was withdrawing from a basic U.N. human rights accord.

Under the covenant, the 138 signatories have to submit periodic reports on their implementation of it.