The Honorable Tom Malinowski: Special Address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
February 19, 2016
A special address delivered by The Honorable Tom Malinowski at the “North Korea: The Human Rights and Security Nexus” conference held in the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as released by the U.S. Department of State.
Thank you, Victor, for the introduction and for the invitation to participate in today’s event. It’s really a privilege to join a group of such committed activists and policymakers. I would also like to thank the folks at CSIS, HRNK, GWBI, NED, and the Yonsei Center for Human Liberty for putting together this conference.
The conversation today is an opportunity for us to reflect on the amazing milestones we have achieved in the two years since the Commission of Inquiry released its historic report, but more importantly is an opportunity for us to think big as we develop a strategy for carrying that momentum forward.
It was not long ago that conventional wisdom advised that the DPRK was impervious to outside pressure on human rights. North Korea ignored international criticism of its human rights record and refused to cooperate with international human rights bodies.
While the North Korean government has sought to hide these abuses by isolating its people from the world, the Commission of Inquiry report lifted that veil.
In many ways the report has been a game changer. The Commission set the record straight:
On the urgency of the problem: North Korea “does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.
On the scope and severity of the problem: “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea”
On who is responsible: “crimes against humanity have been committed…pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the State.”
The report and the international community’s collective response reverberated loudly in Pyongyang. In the past two years, the government has launched an aggressive campaign to counter the report findings and to defend its record.