This organization's Secretary General, Kato Hiroshi, addressed
the 4th annual meeting of International Parliamentarians'
Coalition for North Korean Refugees' Human Rights (IPCNKR).
numbered 111 and came from 36 different countries at this
year's conference, which was held in Japan.
Joint Statement issued on 29
4th General Meeting of International Parliamentarians’ Coalition
for North Korean Refugees’ Human Rights
Human rights are
the most basic and fundamental rights given to man. Over time,
the increasing level of human rights given
to citizens strongly indicates the progress and vast strides
that our society has made. Therefore we need to protect an individual’s
human rights, regardless of his or her location or nationality.
We, as representatives of our respective societies, have a duty
to cooperate with one another and to improve the human rights
situation for individuals around the globe.
In April 2003, five founding countries (South Korea, United
States, United Kingdom, Japan, and Mongolia) and 35 of their
parliamentarians established the International Parliamentarians’ Coalition
for North Korean Refugees’ Human Rights, out of deep conviction
and concern for the plight of North Korean refugees. Two years
later, in August of 2005, IPCNKR held its 2nd General Meeting
in Japan. The 3rd General Meeting of IPCNKR was held in Mongolia
As of today, IPCNKR consists of 111 members from 36 different
countries, a promising increase from the original 35 members.
This increase signifies the coalition’s growing reputation
and global standing in the broad community of international organizations.
From the 28th to the 30th of August 2007, the 4th General Assembly
Meeting of IPCNKR was held in Seoul, Korea. The purpose of this
meeting is to seek practical ways of improving North Korean refugees’ human
rights, as well as to examine past efforts that have been made
on their behalf.
Although the international community has given attention and
made efforts to improve the human rights situation in North Korea,
the tangible outcome of these efforts has been limited. Quantitatively,
we can assume that at least 100,000 (and at most 300,000) citizens
cross the North Korean border to seek refuge in countries like
China, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia. In those countries,
these refugees do not receive legal protection, and their human
rights are thus severely violated. Refugees are often the victims
of violent crimes. There has been a recent surge in the number
of women and children who are made targets of kidnapping, sexual
slavery, and illegal slave labor.
Meanwhile, relations between the North Korean regime and the
international community are at a standstill, ever since North
Korea’s nuclear test in 2006. Today we face a possible
turning point in international relations with North Korea, specifically
through the resumption of the Six Party Talks. In addition, this
October we are anticipating the second summit between the leaders
of North and South. Moreover, the 2008 Olympic Games are scheduled
to take place in Beijing, China, the most common destination
country for North Korean refugees. The Olympic Games has traditionally
been a symbol of unity and harmony for all mankind. Correspondingly,
the Chinese government should demonstrate a desire to increase
protection for North Korean refugees, as well as to guard their
fundamental human rights.
IPCNKR calls for increasing dialogue with the North Korean government.
In light of recent events, we as international parliamentarians
are at an advantageous position, one from which we can assert
our desire to see change. In particular, we demand improvement
for human rights of the North Korean people, as well as for North
Korean refugees who have fled their homeland. We hope that our
demands are made into realities in the nearest possible future.
On August 29, 2007, the International Parliamentarians’ Coalition
for North Korean Refugees’ Human Rights made the following