North Korean Human Rights: A Long Journey with Little Progress

Policy Briefs

Published By

Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, page(s): 1-4

March 2015

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"North Korean Human Rights: A Long Journey with Little Progress" examines human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) and the approaches that the European Union has taken to address the situation. In this paper, Mike Cowin provides perspective on EU-DPRK engagement; the two sides officially established diplomatic relations in May 2001. The EU and its members have continued to raise the human rights issue during bilateral meetings. But, North Korea says it will continue to refuse dialogue if the EU continues to sponsor resolutions against North Korea at the UN Human Rights Commission/Council. The EU has rejected this as a precondition. "The EU has had no incentive or justifiable reason to take the initiative to break out of this chicken-and-egg dilemma...The DPRK has also maintained its position. The gap between the two sides has therefore widened," he writes. Cowin suggests the EU could take additional steps to restart EU-DPRK engagement.

Mike Cowin is the 2014-15 Pantech Fellow in the Korea Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. Before coming to Stanford, he served as the deputy head of mission at the British Embassy in Pyongyang, North Korea. He has also served in the British embassies in Seoul from 2003 to 2007, and in Tokyo from 1992 to 1997.

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