Past Program

Jun 02 - Jun 07, 2015

International Responses to Crimes Against Humanity: The Case of North Korea


Despite many efforts, the international community has yet to find effective ways of preventing or halting extreme human rights violations. Our world is still disfigured by continuing abuses in some countries and new atrocities in others.  

Within East Asia, a window of opportunity has been opened by the 2014 Report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council and chaired by the Hon. Michael Kirby, former Justice of the High Court of Australia. 

The Report draws together the increasing volume of information that is available about conditions in the DPRK, despite the regime’s draconian efforts to isolate the country, and lays down a challenge to the international community: “The fact that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea … has for decades pursued policies involving crimes that shock the conscience of humanity raises questions about the inadequacy of the response of the international community. The international community must accept its responsibility to protect the people of [North] Korea from crimes against humanity, because [their] Government has manifestly failed to do so.” 

Salzburg Global Seminar seeks to respond to this challenge by convening an invitation-only symposium, to discuss and recommend practical ways by which outside actors – state and non-state as well as local, regional and global – might realistically aim to help improve the lot of the North Korean population, allowing them a minimum of freedom and human dignity.

Participants will also address some general questions that arise in cases of mass atrocities, and may consider how far strategies for North Korea could be applicable in situations occurring elsewhere. 

The symposium will be held under the Chatham House Rule, which guarantees the privacy and anonymity of all participants who do not wish their names to be published.