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New Chairperson outlines human rights priorities

Graphic: Choi Young-ae at her appointment as NHRCK Chairperson

Choi Young-ae is the first woman to be appointed as Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea.

The newly appointed Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, Choi Young-ae, has outlined four key priorities for her tenure.

Choi, who previously served as the Commission's Secretary General and as a Standing Commissioner, is the first woman to head the country's national human rights institution.

She said in her inaugural speech that her driving motivation "is to create a world where everyone lives with dignity".

The first priority of the Commission, Choi said, is to counter hatred and discrimination in Korean society.

"Hate expression against women, migrant, refuges, and sexual minorities undermine the dignity of people," she said. "I will make every effort for an anti-discrimination act to realize the right to equality and to respond to the hatred and exclusion."

The second goal is to respond to growing inequality in employment and income and ensure an adequate social safety for all.

Choi said the government had a responsibility to "break the vicious cycle of polarization" and prevent a recurrence of the tragic incident of the Songpa family, where a mother and her two daughters committed suicide due to economic hardship.

"To this end, I will make efforts to address the issue of non-regular workers and enhance protection of labour rights, opportunity for equal education, and access to health care and housing for vulnerable classes," she said.

Graphic: Two women on the streets of Seoul

The third goal is to strengthen the Commission's partnership with the government and local governing bodies for the protection of human rights and take steps to bridge the "regional gap" on human rights protection.

"To this end, as long as it doesn't undermine the independence of the Commission, we will support and cooperate with the government in activities for the promotion of human rights," Choi said.

The fourth and the most important task, according the Commission Chair, is to dramatically improve the relationship with human rights and civil society organisations.

Choi noted that the Paris Principles highlight the vital role that civil society plays in the promotion of human rights.

"We will communicate and cooperate with them with sincerity," she said.

"I will run this Commission in a way where all of you feel proud to be a human rights defender and equipped with expertise."

The full text of the speech is available on the Commission's website.

Date: 26 October 2018

Source: National Human Rights Commission of Korea

Image credits

  1. Choi Young-ae at her appointment as NHRCK Chairperson - Screen grab from ARIRANG news item; https://youtu.be/8uKeD7DKGHM
  2. Two women on the streets of Seoul - 경하 황, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2r0HF9Q