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Humanitarian (Re)Engagement: Supporting North Korean Human Security in the Age of COVID-19

posted on 2023-04-12, 23:14 authored by Nazanin Zadeh-CummingsNazanin Zadeh-Cummings
Humanitarian (Re)Engagement: Supporting North Korean Human Security in the Age of COVID-19






Research statement

Background The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK, or North Korea) COVID-19 response in early 2020 included shutting the country’s borders and requiring lengthy quarantine measures for goods. As of writing, the border remains largely closed with no known timeline for reopening. International humanitarian engagement, which began in the mid-1990s, has—with very few exceptions—ceased under these restrictions. Humanitarian aid remains an important avenue for supporting the health and wellbeing of the North Korean people and for facilitating people-to-people dialogue. Contribution This policy report explores the following questions, and makes concrete recommendations to multiple stakeholders (including the United States) on how to best enable effective humanitarian re-engagement: What will international humanitarian aid to the DPRK look like in the coming years? • How can policy best support a return to humanitarian engagement? • How can the international community, meaning states and humanitarian organizations, best prepare for effective humanitarian engagement with North Korea in the age of COVID-19? How can states best support non-state actors for re-engagement? Significance It is the responsibility of the North Korean state to care for its people, and many of the challenges facing humanitarian agencies are born from the Kim regime’s decision-making. However, this does not absolve the international community from doing what it can to support North Korean health and wellbeing through aid. This brief examines these fac- tors within the control of international actors, to prepare for when and if the DPRK allows humanitarian engagement again


National Committee on American Foreign Policy


The Future of the Korean Peninsula and Beyond: Next Generation Policy Perspectives

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