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U.S.: Too Much Emphasis on Human Rights might Derail the Efforts to Solve the Nuclear Issue

U.S.: Too Much Emphasis on Human Rights might Derail the Efforts to Solve the Nuclear Issue

Posted March. 04, 2005 22:32,   


It became known that the U.S. State Department decided neither to make a request for a North Korean Human Rights Act budget to Congress nor to hurry the execution of the budget until the end of the 2005 fiscal year (that spans from October 1, 2004 till September 30, 2005).

On March 3, diplomatic sources in Washington said, “The State Department wants to get the six-party talks back on track. To that end, it will try to refrain from asking for or executing any budget regarding the North Korean Human Rights Act, both of which might annoy North Korea.”

In fact, this cautious attitude is different from the “spread of freedom,” a diplomatic principle the Bush administration has proclaimed, and from Congress-backed bills to promote democracy. But it appears that the settlement of the nuclear crisis likely remains higher on the U.S. priorities than the human rights issue for some time.

According to diplomatic sources, they added, “Other departments might oppose the new stance, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be able to bridge differences.”

On February 7, President Bush submitted his 2006 budget proposal to Congress without the portion for the North Korean Human Rights Act in it. At that time, the reason for the exclusion was supposedly that the administration had not finished selecting a human rights envoy.

Although the budget for the North Korean Human Rights Act is not included in the budget bill, the State Department is allowed to arrange expenses for itself or additionally ask for money to Congress. Nonetheless, following the “resumption-of-the-six-way-talks-first-and-the-human-rights-issue-later” tactic, the State Department is not expected to initiate the execution of any additional budget.

On the situation, other diplomatic sources said, “In America, the right to use budgets is more centered on Congress than on the administration. Still, the possibility cannot be ruled out that some lawmakers turned other budgets into the budget for the human rights act, saying, ‘There’s no reason to delay the execution of the budget especially for a bill that has passed Congress.’”

Recently it was discovered that the Committee on Appropriations in the House of Representatives diverted $1.97 million, the money recently given to “Freedom House,” a human rights watch, so that it could hold a seminar on the North Korea’s human rights conditions, from other budgets. To assign the sum to the organization, the Committee reportedly changed the nature of part of the budget that was supposed to go to the State Department for seminars in general.

The North Korean Human Rights Act provides for an annual budget of $24 million for four years between 2005 and 2008, and states that unspent sums will be carried forward to the following year.

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com