December 05, 2023

Human rights engagement: North Korean style

DPRK submits to UN reviews to earn goodwill, but does little to implement human rights policies

North Korea has recently undertaken a flurry of activities with the United Nations human rights bodies in recent months. In October and November, the country submitted itself to reviews of the children and women’s rights situation in the country, something which may raise eyebrows since the country routinely resorts to non-cooperation, rejection, and denial of its grave human rights record at UN fora.

Why do they bother to engage, then? In context, these activities are in line with the North Korean concept of “engagement," which is viewed as a strategic move and not as a fulfillment of legal obligations on the North Korean side.