Trump-Kim summit: What about human rights in North Korea?

Two administration officials tell NBC News the U.S. has decided not to bring up human rights at the summit. How important/unimportant and why would be to mention human rights issue regarding North Korea at Trump-Kim summit, and if not at the summit should it become a part of negotiations with NK in the future? Read few comments.

Abigail Grace, Research Associate, Asia-Pacific Security Program, Center for a New American Security

For the U.S. to achieve long-term success with North Korea, it will be essential for U.S. policymakers to address the human rights question. The U.S. Congress will not agree to providing monetary aid or development funds to a country that does not respect its own citizens. President Trump would be well advised to lay down a brief marker on the issue, indicate that the U.S. will return to the matter in future meetings, and then focus the majority of the Summit on the denuclearization and disarmament question.

Minseon Ku, Political Science PhD Student, Ohio State University

Human rights issue is definitely important in any negotiations with North Korea but the current gridlock between U.S.-DPRK negotiations is on CVID. I wouldn’t expect a radical, positive outcome from the upcoming summit even with regards to denuclearization because of the very reason that the two countries are currently not in agreement as to how to go about denuclearizing North Korea, and hence I do not see a radically positive outcome on the human rights issues as well. The best we could expect regarding human rights issues from the summit is that President Trump might raise the issue to Mr. Kim Jong Un but a substantial outcome or an agreement to improve human rights problem in North Korea is highly unlikely at this moment given that denuclearization is overwhelmingly central to U.S.-North Korea relations currently.

Mintaro Oba, Speechwriter West Wing Writers, Former Korea Desk Officer, U.S. Department of State

Human rights is a critical component of U.S. North Korea policy, and we must always remember the grave and systematic abuses of the North Korean regime against its own people. I think it would be useful and appropriate to emphasize to Kim Jong Un that the welfare of the North Korean people matters to us. But the Trump-Kim summit is about something very specific: reducing the threat from North Korea’s nuclear program and enhancing the security of the United States and its allies. We need to understand that this is the main focus of this summit and any subsequent talks on the nuclear issue.

Stephan Haggard, Professor of Korea-Pacific Studies, Director, Korea-Pacific Program, University of California San Diego

The Trump administration has shown little interest in human rights, and indeed in his early important meeting in Riyhad signaled that the US would not seek to change countries’ political systems. There has been a self-conscious decision not to push on these issues as far as I can tell, although the issue could come up later.

Suk-Young Kim, Professor of Critical Studies, School of Theater, Film, and Television, Director, Center for Performance Studies, University of California at Los Angeles

Human rights issue will surface as the detailed negotiations progress further, but at the Kim-Trump summit, we have a bigger fish to fry, which is to establish trust between the two countries and take the very first step to halt nuclear arms race. This is of upmost importance, and in my view, this issue is the very first step to reach other goals. Once North Korea and US establish a track record of working together, then time will come when US can bring up its concerns about North Korea’s human rights abuses.



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