- Ministry News
FM Delivers Keynote Speech at High-Level Segment of UNHRC
1. At the high-level segment of the 40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the afternoon of Monday, February 25, local time, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha delivered a keynote speech. In the speech, she voiced concern over systemic and grave violations of human rights in many regions of the world; particularly underscored the need for keen attention to women, children, refugees and other vulnerable groups; and expressed the commitment of the government of the Republic of Korea to taking an active part in the international efforts to safeguard and promote human rights across the world.
2. Minister Kang mentioned that although new technologies were ushering in sweeping changes in people’s lives and societies, yet the implications for human rights remained unclear, adding that there was both optimism and uneasiness. She went on to underscore the need for concerted efforts, such as in-depth studies as well as constructive and inclusive dialogue, to find ways to channel new technologies’ powers to advance human rights and dignity. On that note, she articulated the ROK government’s commitment to continued cooperation with the international community to make meaningful progress in this area.
3. Minister Kang expressed concern over the fact that sexual violence in many conflict areas continued, despite the heroic efforts of fearless advocates such as Dr. Denis Mukwege and Ms. Nadia Murad, the recipients of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2018. She added that the prize had reminded the international community of the need to eliminate sexual violence as an instrument of war and to provide support to victims and survivors.
° The Minister, calling sad and deeply frustrating the departures of Grandma Kim Bok-dong, who passed away in January, and other victims of the “comfort women” during World War II without having their lifelong pain fully addressed, mentioned that the ROK government had humbly acknowledged that previous efforts on this issue had been grossly lacking in this regard, and was committed to the victim-centered approach. On that note, she brought attention to the fact that as part of these efforts, the ROK government launched a new initiative entitled “‘Action with Women and Peace” in 2018 to support international organizations’ projects that addressed the needs of women and girls in conflict, such as Rohingya refugee women, and would convene the 1st gathering of this initiative later in 2019 to create an international platform to discuss issues of critical importance to agenda concerning women, peace and security.
4. Minister Kang said that the momentum for inter-Korean dialogue, created at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in February 2018, had led to three inter-Korean summits and the first-ever summit between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, thus opening the road to complete denuclearization and establishment of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula; and that in just two days, the 2nd US-DPRK summit would be held in Hanoi, Vietnam, starting the journey toward a nuclear-free, peaceful Korean Peninsula. She added that progress would require sustained focus and will, patience and wisdom, stressing that the reward would be peaceful coexistence where the human rights situation in the DPRK would improve and all of the Korean people would be able to seek prosperous lives without the fear of war.
° Minister Kang, while expressing pleasure with the resumed reunions of families separated across the ROK and the DPRK, called them hardly enough, given the very advanced ages of the remaining survivors. On that note, she brought attention to the ROK government’s work to allow video reunions and exchanges of video messages and to open a permanent facility for family reunion meetings, as agreed at the inter-Korean summit in September 2018.
° The Minister, taking note of the DPRK’s cooperation with several human rights treaty bodies of the UN, including, in particular, its recent submission of the first national report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, voiced hope that the DPRK would make use of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) scheduled for May 2019 as an opportunity for dialogue and cooperation with the international community.
5. Minister Kang brought attention to the fact that the Republic of Korea had been constructively engaging in the Human Rights Council’s work, serving as a Member four times since its creation, and had submitted its candidature for membership in the Council for the 2020-2022 term, hoping to strengthen its contribution to the Council’s response to human rights and humanitarian challenges and crises, and to assist in capacity-building for developing countries; and asked for support of all of the countries.
* unofficial translation