LFNKR’s Kato Speaks at 4th General Meeting of International Lawmakers

Kato Hiroshi urges "Protect North Korean Refugee Human Rights"

“Protect North Korean Refugee Human Rights”

This organization’s Secretary General, Kato Hiroshi,addressed the 4th annual meeting of International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for North Korean Refugees’ Human Rights (IPCNKR). Representatives totalled 111 and came from 36 different countries at this year’s conference, which was held in Japan. 

Joint Statement issued on 29 August 2007
by 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.

111 representatives from 36 different countries attended the 4th general IPCNKR Conference in Japan.

111 representatives from 36 different countries attended the 4th general IPCNKR Conference in Japan.

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 in 2006.

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 resolutions:


1. The international community shall increase its efforts to improve North Korean refugees’ human rights.
STRENGTHEN efforts to obtain legitimate refugee status for North Korean refugees under international law.
STOP the forcible repatriation of North Korean refugees in China
URGE the United Nations and governments of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar (the most common destinations and escape routes) to provide some measure of legal protection for the civil liberties of North Korean refugees.
BROADEN international support in constructing a joint resolution on North Korea that reflects the world’s united and multilateral concern for North Korean refugees’ human rights.
INITIATE investigations, in conjunction with NGOs, in regions where North Korean refugees reside. We must send investigators to examine the realities of refugees’ living conditions, and utilize these findings to increase global awareness of their plight, and bring about changes for their situation.
URGE the immediate destination countries of North Korean refugees to make the refugees’ resettlement process more expedient and more efficient, so that there is no delay and no waste of resources.
URGE that the UNHCR play a more active role in protecting the North Korean refugees, under the direction of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
DEMAND that the issue of North Korean human rights be brought up as part of the agenda at the upcoming North-South summit in October.
2. The international community should actively seek countermeasures to stop the abuse of refugee women and children’s rights.
  STRENGTHEN international cooperation in order to more effectively prevent human trafficking, prostitution, exploitation, and detention of North Korean refugee women.
  ENCOURAGE the international community to continue working and improving education and medical care for the children of North Korean refugees, and induce country of second residence to implement more supportive policies for the North Korean refugees.
3. The international community should increase humanitarian aid in order to offer economic support and improve living conditions in North Korea.
  URGE North Korea to guarantee basic freedoms of assembly, religion, speech, and association for its citizens. Also, urge North Korea to close down its political prison camps.
  INCREASE humanitarian aid to North Korea, to meet their vast needs brought on by flooding and other natural disasters, ensuring that this aid is not misappropriated by the government.
  DEMAND multilateral effort to make the international community realize that the only remedy for improving North Korean human rights and living conditions is through the North’s political change.
4. The international community should urge humanitarian solutions in order to resolve the problem of abduction by North Korea.
  REQUEST that North Korea faithfully verify the identities and confirm any deaths of kidnapped individuals, including prisoners of war during the Korean War, and to work towards their swift and safe return to their native countries.
  DEMAND that the abduction of citizens and captive prisoners of war be brought up as part of the agenda of the October summit between North and South Korea.
  FORTIFY our solidarity with the United Nations and other international organizations to increase economic aid while expanding our humanitarian approach to resolving the issue.
5. The international community should promote the establishment of settlement camps for North Korean refugees.
  ESTABLISH an international network of nations to protect North Korean refugees and provide support for their settlement in other countries.
  COOPERATE with China, Mongolia, and other third countries for establishing North Korean refugee settlements.
  IPCNKR will cooperate with countries of North Korean refugee residence in order to see practical, legitimate resettlement and rehabilitation for these individuals.