North Korea will be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges of crimes against humanity.
The UN General Assembly voted the resolution with 116 to 20, with more than 50 abstentions.
The UN Security Council is expected to discuss the resolution on December 22, but it is likely to face stiff opposition from China and Russia.
North Korea said the resolution was “a product of political plot and confrontation”.
A UN report released in February revealed ordinary North Koreans faced “unspeakable atrocities”.
It added that those accused of political crimes were “disappeared” to prison camps, where they were subject to “deliberate starvation, forced labor, executions, torture, rape and the denial of reproductive rights enforced through punishment, forced abortion and infanticide”.
Most of the evidence came from North Korean defectors who had fled the country.
North Korea refused to co-operate with the report and condemned its findings.
The report led to a vote in the UN’s human rights committee last month, which voted in favor of referring North Korea to the ICC.
China, North Korea’s main international ally, is expected to veto any Security Council resolution when the matter is discussed next week.
On December 18, the General Assembly also passed resolutions condemning the human rights records of Syria and Iran, but did not go as far as recommending a referral to the ICC.