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Jannuzi discusses human rights in North Korea

By JACK BARTHOLET | April 18, 2013

The Foreign Affairs Symposium hosted Frank Jannuzi, the Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, as their fifth speaker on Tuesday, April 16. Jannuzi also heads the Washington, D.C. office of Amnesty International.

Jannuzi started his talk by outlining the organization and its goals. He explained that Amnesty International is dedicated to protecting human rights worldwide. He noted that the organization does not believe any nation on the planet, including the United States, does not violate human rights. Shifting to current events, Jannuzi began discussing North Korea and violations taking place in that country.

In talking about North Korea, Jannuzi drew from his firsthand knowledge of the nation —he has visited the country five times. He explained that he learned more from visiting North Korea than he did reading surveillance and intelligence reports for over twenty-five years.

Prior to joining Amnesty International, Jannuzi served as Policy Director for East Asian and Pacific Affairs for the Democratic staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Previously, he worked for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, part of the U.S. Department of State, as an analyst focused on East Asia.

Jannuzi explained the difficulty in gathering information about possible human rights violations in North Korea. Amnesty International mainly relies on satellite imagery to observe and monitor the gulag system in the North. This is difficult, Jannuzi explained, due to the fact that these images cannot adequately convey exactly what is occurring in buildings at these camps.

Jannuzi also advocated a different approach when discussing and analyzing North Korea. He asserted that there should be less of a focus on the plutonium that they have, and more of a focus on their people. He advocated the renewed focus on the North Korean people due to the fact that the United States has already taken the approach of focusing all of its attention on the nation’s nuclear capabilities —an approach that he feels hasn’t worked. Jannuzi endorsed a multilateral dialogue with North Korea.

Jannuzi also condemned the elites in North Korea, arguing that many of the human rights violations in the North occur as a result of the elite class abusing the lower classes.

Sophomore John Janezich enjoyed the talk, particularly liking Jannuzi’s firsthand accounts of North Korea. “It was really interesting. I learned more about the subject than I ever had before,” Janezich said.

Likewise, Sophomore Sean White found the talk compelling. “I thought it was really good. He was really interesting,” White said.

White was apprehensive going into the event, concerned that a speaker from Amnesty International might be too left-wing to hold his attention. However, Jannuzi disproved his preconceived notions.

“I liked it. I thought it was really good. I was a little nervous going in — I thought he would be a super hippie liberal, but he wasn’t at all. He took a very pragmatic approach to human rights, so it was definitely something that I could get behind. He didn’t say anything that I thought was far-out there in terms of way far-left. He was very pragmatic about it,” White said.

 

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