June 07, 2021

HRNK Letter to High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell Fontelles

Josep Borrell Fontelles
High Representative/Vice-President
European Commission

May 18, 2021

Dear High Representative Borrell,

Greetings and warmest regards. I am writing to you on behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), based in Washington, D.C., ahead of the upcoming EU-US summit in Brussels next month. We are very happy to see that both the European Union and the United States are committed to revitalizing the Transatlantic relationship, working in close cooperation to address the global challenges ahead. We believe the upcoming summit would be an excellent opportunity for the European Union and the United States to discuss a coordinated approach to bring human rights, security, and denuclearization to all people on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.

The European Union and the United States enjoy a strong partnership, rooted in shared interests and fundamental values, including freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights. Both are forces of good on the international stage and can work together to strengthen the call for human rights and the rule of law. North Korea’s ongoing crimes against humanity and its disregard for a rules-based international order remain urgent and challenging. Thus, it would be a logical step to join forces and work together towards a breakthrough.

Historically, the European Union’s role in multilateral diplomatic events involving the Korean Peninsula, such as the Geneva Agreed Framework or the Six-Party Talks, has been limited and could be strengthened. As a global leader with human rights and multilateralism at the core of its external actions, the European Union has great potential to contribute to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, working towards the improvement of North Korean human rights and global security in the process. Several European Union member states are in the unique position of having an embassy in Pyongyang and the European Union itself has been a provider of humanitarian aid since 1995. We encourage the European Union to resume political and human rights dialogue with the North Korean regime as well as to continue to address the dire human rights situation in North Korea in multilateral and bilateral settings, such as United Nations fora and the upcoming summit.

As you prepare for the EU-US summit, we therefore humbly submit that North Korea should be on the agenda, and that a focus on North Korea’s human rights situation would send a strong but vital message that the European Union and its like-minded allies have a strong and committed approach to upholding human rights for those who suffer under regimes committing atrocities. 

HRNK is a non-partisan, non-profit human rights organization based in Washington, DC. Since our founding in 2001, we have sought to raise international awareness of the human rights situation in North Korea through the publication of well-documented reports and outreach activities in support of the recommendations in those publications. HRNK has UN ECOSOC special consultative status, and is certified with the EU Transparency Register Should you have any questions, HRNK stands by ready to assist. As the leading non-governmental organization in the field of North Korean human rights research and advocacy, we have a strong commitment to upholding universal human rights values and improving the lives of the North Korean people.

If I may be of any assistance to you and your team, please ask your staff members to contact me directly at executive.director@hrnk.org.

Thank you very much for your kind attention and consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Greg Scarlatoiu
Executive Director
Committee for Human Rights in North Korea