PSPD in English Peace/Disarmament 2014-12-31   1709

[Report] Alternative Approach to the Actual Improvement of Human Rights in North Korea

Alternative Approach to the Actual Improvement of Human Rights in North Korea

: Evaluation of the issue from domestic and international perspective and problem

December 2014

This report is based on the Korean version of “Alternative Approach to the Actual Improvement of Human Rights n North Korea” which was published on 25 November 2014. The Korean report was jointly written by Kim Gwi-ok (Hansung University), Kim Duck-jin (Catholic Human Rights Committee), Kim Hyung-wan (Korea Human Rights Policy Institute), Baek Buhm-suk (Kyung Hee University), Park Jung-eun, Kim Seung-hwan(People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy), Suh Bo-hyuk (Seoul National University, the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies). 

 

Overview

 

It is considered that the human rights situation in North Korea has continued to deteriorate and crimes against humanity are said to have been committed. The United Nations (UN) is considering referring those who are responsible for the violation of human rights to the International Criminal Court, to which North Korea is strongly opposed. It is highly doubtful that the current trend will bring positive development to the improvement of human rights in North Korea.

 

North Korea is the other side of the divided Korean Peninsula and is in hostile relations with the United States and Japan. North Korea is characterized by political monotony, economic underdevelopment, international isolation, and authoritarian culture. The political system in North Korea and the armistice stand as the historical background and the real conditions for the human rights problems in North Korea. Therefore, it is essential to steer the North Korean regime toward the human rights-friendly track and to overcome the armistice system. The report of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights in the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic Of Korea) addresses these two points, yet the media and countries concerned including South Korea and the US mainly focus on holding the North Korean government to be politically accountable. 

 

The human rights issue in North Korea is about the rights of the North Korean ‘people.’ Human rights in North Korea specifically fall into three categories: human rights in North Korea, North Korean residents abroad (North Korean defectors in particular), humanitarian issue created by the Korean War and the division of Korea (separated families, POWs, and abductees). In other words, improvement of human rights in North Korea requires not only changes in North Korean government but also cooperation from the international community. Pressure, economic sanctions, naming and shaming on North Korea will all fall short in the end. Thus, we recommend the following as a discipline of approach to the human rights issue in North Korea. 

 

Firstly, North Korea is the subject for the improvement of human rights in North Korea and the international community needs to take the role of monitoring and promoting the nation to improve the human rights. Secondly, all discussions and approaches towards the human rights issue in North Korea must focus on the actual improvement of the matter at hand. Thirdly, multi-dimensional actors including the government, civil society, and countries and international organizations that are concerned need to cooperate in a mutually complementary relation. Fourthly, efforts to improve human rights in North Korea should proceed in harmony with the efforts to ameliorate the North-South relation and to establish peace in the Korean Peninsula.

 

The North-South relation is a policy channel that is unique to South Korea that is enabled to involve the human rights problem in North Korea. It is also a channel through which the two Koreas prepare for human rights-friendly unification. Therefore, South Korea must engage in international cooperation and talk between Pyongyang and Seoul in order to improve the human rights in North Korea. Peace in the Korean Peninsula not only creates a positive environment for the improvement of human rights in North Korea, but it also stands as an entity of the improvement of human rights as a right to peace. 

 

Ways to improve the human rights in North Korea are as follow: engaging in the protection against the violation of human rights and enhancing the capability for improvement of human rights; making a comprehensive and balanced approach to the matter at hand; and making efforts to overcome the armistice and the division of the Korean Peninsula to offer fundamental solutions to the problem. An approach to the short-term, phenomenal problem should be accompanied by efforts to settle the historical roots of human rights violation. The two Koreas and international community should cooperate to prepare for the unification of the Korean Peninsula that realizes universal values including human rights. 

 

** For the full report,  please see the attachment.

 

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