Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Legal

Living History with Michael Kirby


The United Nations Human Rights Council established the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on March 21, 2013. The mission of the Commission was to investigate the “systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights” in the DPRK, otherwise known as North Korea. After countless hours of careful examination of the substantial evidence provided by hundreds of witnesses at public hearings, the commissioners launched the report in Geneva on February 17, 2014.

Among its many findings and recommendations, the Commission determined that the UN Security Council should pursue accountability for North Korean crimes against humanity by referring the case to the International Criminal Court.

Priorities are to continue the effort to get the United Nations to address the obligation ‘Responsibility to Protect’ – the report of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) has revealed crimes against humanity — they are very serious international crimes and under international law if the state itself will not protect its citizens it’s the duty of the whole international community to do so.

One year after the release of the report CSIS interviewed Justice Michael Kirby, former Justice of the High Court of Australia and Chair of the COI, about his experiences on the Commission and his outlook for moving forward the agenda on human rights in North Korea.

It’s a good thing to engage North Korea…the more dialogue they have the better, the more they see free people speaking, disagreeing about issues on North Korea and on human rights generally the better.

Justice Kirby noted that any strategy to protect and improve human rights in North Korea would require the international community to do more to raise awareness, to promote legal accountability, and to engage the people of North Korea.

[carousel-horizontal-posts-content-slider-pro id='113']