Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX professor invited to South Korea to advise on human rights violations in North Korea

November 24th, 2016
Dr. Lavinia Stan

StFX political science professor Dr. Lavinia Stan was a member of a select international delegation of academics invited to Seoul, South Korea by several organizations including the UN field office to advise on human rights violations in North Korea.  

The Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, the UN Commission of Inquiry for North Korea, the UN field office in Seoul, and Human Rights Watch invited Dr. Stan to participate in two days of closed door meetings on Nov. 18-19.

Dr. Stan says six academics from across the world were brought in to instruct them in ways to bring about accountability for human rights abuses in North Korea.

Dr. Stan is internationally known as the editor of the Encyclopedia of Transitional Justice, and focuses her research on transitional justice, a field that brings together legal scholars, political scientists and historians to look at ways in which countries can reckon with past human rights abuse.

She says the visit was an eye-opening experience and one she wanted to be involved in.

“It’s very important for academics to get involved in speaking out against these oppressive regimes.

“I know of the work of the UN Commission of Inquiry, and I’m very committed to bringing accountability to North Korea.”

In March 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council established a Commission of Inquiry with a mandate to investigate systematic, widespread and grave human rights violation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Dr. Stan says. The commission reported back to the Human Rights Council in March 2014. The report had over 370 pages. The commission is an independent temporary body of a non-judicial nature.

The commission included three members: Michael Kirby (Australia, chair of the Commission); Sonja Biserko (Serbia); and Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia). Mr. Darusman was already serving as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK at the time of his appointment, and continues to report in that capacity. All three members had extensive legal and human rights expertise.

She says the commission was requested to investigate violations of the right to food and those associated with prison camps, torture and inhuman treatment, arbitrary detention, discrimination, freedom of expression, the right to life, freedom of movement and enforced disappearances, including in the form of abductions of foreign nationals. The commission found that, for decades, "unimaginable atrocities" had been committed at the highest level of the state, with the complete impunity of the North Korean regime. The commission found evidence of crimes against humanity in all nine categories it investigated.

Start Your Journey