Home > UN and ROK > Policy on Major Issues > Human rights
Since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, there has been progress on many fronts, including the adoption of six major international human rights conventions and the establishment of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in 2006. However, with cases of serious human rights violation still widespread in certain regions, the protection of vulnerable groups, especially women and children, remains a daunting task.
Respect for human dignity is embedded in Korean culture and ancient philosophy. Even through its tumultuous modern history, the Republic of Korea served as an example of how rapid economic growth does not conflict with the principles of democracy and human rights, but is in fact complementary.As strong advocate for human rights, the Republic of Korea is a party to all major conventions, and served in the Commission on Human Rights from 1993 to 2006. As the founding member of the HRC, the Republic of Korea strives to contribute to strengthening the Council as a fair and effective body capable of responding to human rights abuses in a prompt and efficient manner. The Republic of Korea is also committed to strengthening the UN’s various human rights related funds and programs. Along with financial contributions, Korean nationals have also served as the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights and Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, among others.Democracy and women’s rights are the two focus areas of the Korea’s human rights diplomacy. Together with its active participation in the Community of Democracies (CD) at the global level, the Republic of Korea has also joined in regional initiatives. Among others, it has contributed to forming the framework of the Asia-Pacific Democracy Partnership (APDP) by hosting the 1st Senior Officials Meeting in 2008. With a view to assisting fragile states in building democratic institutions and governance capacity, the Republic of Korea has also been devoted to the activities of the Partnership for Democratic Governance (PDG).
The Republic of Korea believes that gender equality and empowerment of women are vital to promoting and protecting human rights. The Republic of Korea has been a member of the Executive Board of UN Women since its creation in October 2011. The Korean Government also contributed to the initial development of the new body by holding the presidency of the Executive Board in 2012. As part of its efforts to strengthen gender-sensitive policies, the ROK played an important role in inserting a separate clause for women in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Domestically, it also abolished the male-oriented family registry system in 2005.
The Korean government’s active human rights diplomacy abroad has in turn led to higher expectations at home. This brought about the creation of the National Human Rights Commission in 2001 and a five-year National Action Plan (NAP) for the Promotion and community at the Universal periodic Review of the HRC.