We all have some idea of how bad things are in North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). We’re also aware that outside efforts to remedy the situation haven't really panned out. But turning our backs on the suffering civilians is not an option. So where do we go from here?
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect published a policy brief last week offering some possible answers to this question.
The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a doctrine that obligates countries to safeguard their populations from mass atrocities, including genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. If a State is unable to fulfill this responsibility, it falls to other countries to provide diplomatic and humanitarian assistance. If the State is unwilling to do so, the international community is compelled to intervene.
DPRK clearly falls into the latter category, as its millions of citizens are victimized by the brutal regime every day. The Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry (CoI) has found systematic human rights violations, particularly in the form of political prison camps. Hundreds of thousands of inmates in these camps are subjected to starvation, forced labor, execution without trial, torture, rape, forced abortion, and infanticide. Millions of other citizens, meanwhile, live in abject poverty, suffering from hunger and malnutrition while the State uses food as a means of control.