Signe Poulsen of Seoul U.N. human rights office to leave post

July 17, 2020

Kim Seung-yeon on 16 July 2020 reported that Signe Poulsen, Seoul office chief of the U.N. Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), will leave South Korea this week for a new position in the Philippines, ending her five-year term monitoring human rights situation in North Korea. As it it the end of her normal term it is not clear whether there is any link to her speaking out on the issue of balloons sent over the border. [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/06/29/un-representative-in-south-korea-sees-balloon-actions-as-freedom-of-expression/]

It’s been a great inspiration interacting with civil society and activists working on North Korea’s abduction issues and separated families, and people who continue to make progress in getting their voices heard,” she told Yonhap News Agency on Thursday.

Poulsen said while she has “many regrets” over the lack of progress in improving human rights in the North, the U.N. now places far more weight on the issue compared to the past and that is a big step forward.

North Korea has not unfortunately seemed to have gotten any better since we opened the office. But the U.N. and the international community are now fully engaged on North Korea files. Firm placing of North Korea’s human rights violations in the U.N. system is important,” she said.

Leaving Seoul, she expressed hopes that inter-Korean exchanges at a humanitarian level, including reunions of separated families, will take place in a sustainable way in the long term.

The solution is ultimately for the Korean people and not for me to say. For that to happen I strongly believe human rights must be part of all those engagement and interactions,” she said.

https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200716005600325

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