Patterns of Impunity

Human Rights in North Korea and the Role of the U.S. Special Envoy

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Publisher Description

As the special envoy for North Korean human rights from 2009 to 2017, Ambassador Robert R. King led efforts to ensure that human rights were an integral part of U.S. policy with North Korea. In this book, he traces U.S. involvement and interest in North Korean human rights beginning with the adoption of the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004—legislation that King himself was involved in and that called for the creation of the special envoy position. King details his own negotiations with North Korean diplomats over humanitarian assistance, discussions that ultimately ended because of the death of Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un’s ascension as supreme leader, and the North’s continued nuclear and missile testing.

Beyond an in-depth overview of his time as special envoy, Ambassador King provides insights into the United Nations’ role in addressing the North Korean human rights crisis, including creation of the UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the DPRK in 2013–14, and discussions of North Korea’s human rights in the UN Security Council.

King explores subjects such as the obstacles to getting outside information to citizens of one of the most isolated countries in the world; the welfare of DPRK defectors/refugees, and how China has both abetted the North by returning refugees seeking to flee and enabled the problem of human trafficking; North Korea’s detention of U.S. citizens and U.S. efforts to free them, including King’s escorting U.S. citizen Eddie Jun back from Pyongyang in 2011; and the challenges of providing humanitarian assistance to North Korea, where separating human rights from politics is virtually impossible.

Politics & Current Events
April 26
Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center
The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University

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