▲ Former ambassador Oh lecturing about human rights. Photographed by Park Min Ha.
On June 7, Oh Joon, the former ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations (UN), visited the International Studies Hall to lecture about human rights issues in UN. The two-hour lecture was hosted by Korea University (KU) Human Rights Center and the Center’s Supporters. Many students of KU attended the lecture and listened to Oh discuss crucial issues regarding human rights in today’s global society.
The lecture began with a short introduction given by a KU Human Rights Center representative about its different services open for KU students. As it was written in the pamphlet providedbefore the lecture, the center “provides counseling service to any possible human rights violation cases within the campus” and aims to increase human rights sensitivity through related programs, forums and lectures.
Oh started the main lecture by illustrating his ambition to work for the global society, which explains why he started working for a nongovernmental organization (NGO) such as Save the Children Foundation after working for the Korean government as a diplomat for so long. Oh gave a brief overview on the origins of human rights and the UN, and stressed the idea that human rights issues are one of the most important agendas for individual countries. The lecture consisted of three parts: “What are human rights?” “Human rights issues in individual nations,” and “Rights of people with disabilities.”
Oh explained that human rights, at first, was not an absolute truth, but rather a positive ideology created to end wars and help people coexist in peace. On approaching human rights issues in North Korea, he provided a three-step methodology: a nonpolitical, professional approach, an institutional approach, and finally, a people-first approach. These approaches all convey the core message that we need to focus on economic and societal rights rather than the political relationship that the UN, or each country, has with North Korea. Finally, Oh shared his experience of working on human rights issues for people with disabilities in the US and in Korea. He especially expressed his disappointment towards the lack of infrastructure needed to help people with disabilities enjoy the same rights as anyone else. The lecture ended with a 15-minute question-and-answer (Q&A) session.