Go to contents

Food Aid to North Korea Could be Considered a Human Rights Issue

Food Aid to North Korea Could be Considered a Human Rights Issue

Posted September. 10, 2005 08:08,   


Jay Lefkowitz, the U.S. special envoy on human rights for North Korea, indicated on September 8 that food aid to North Korea may soon be considered a human rights issue to improve the nation’s human rights record.

At his first press conference since his inauguration, he said, “North Korea is the biggest beneficiary of food aid, and there is no question that the North Korean human rights condition should be improved,” when he was asked about the possibility of associating the realm of human rights with food aid.

He said, “There is a need to review all aspects such as the North-U.S. relations including food aid and the relationship between the South-U.S. alliance and North Korea,” adding, “We understand that we can’t accept the situation 20 million North Koreans are in right now.”

His remarks sparked attention because what he said isn’t in line with the state department’s existing policy not to link humanitarian aid with human rights.

Lefkowitz stated, “U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked me at the September 6 meeting to brief her on extensive North Korean policies and issues.” So there is a possibility that he will get involved with the overall U.S. policy for North Korea.

As for the relations with the South Korean government, he said, “I hope that the South Korean government will be a critical partner in our efforts to improve human rights in North Korea.”

He continued, “Improving the human rights condition in North Korea is essential if the nation wants to be recognized and respected in the international community,” adding, “I intend to visit South Korea to listen to views of the South Korean government on this issue.”

Soon-Taek Kwon maypole@donga.com