Statement of Principles on North Korea: Its Suffering People and the Threat of its Regime

By various
Jul 1, 2006


This Statement of Principles by concerned American religious, human rights, security, social, and civil leaders reflects our deep concern for the widespread denial of basic human rights to suffering people of North Korea – and for the North Korean refugees whose right to lawful treatment is now being systematically denied.


The current North Korean regime is directly responsible for gross and widespread human rights violations that have taken the form of deliberate starvation, abduction, family separation, religious persecution, the trafficking of women and children, the world’s worst system of inhumane prisons and gulags. Such conditions have understandably facilitated an exodus of North Korean refugees to bordering countries, where they also suffer unlawful and inhumane treatment in the form of forced repatriation to North Korea followed by arrest, torture and frequent, deliberate murder. China’s acts of roundups and forced repatriation of the refugees make it complicit in these human rights violations and both gives its stamp of approval to North Korea’s oppression. Further, China’s political and financial support of the regime is the critical element that permits the regime to continue its human rights practices and, in the end, the nuclear and other WMD development programs by which it seeks to extract blackmail from the international community and to maintain itself in power.

More can and needs to be done by all members of the international community to ameliorate the human rights crisis in North Korea and the threats to the world order that its regime poses. In particular, the government of South Korea has failed to speak out against the regime’s treatment of its Korean brothers and sisters, is openly prepared to subsidize and legitimize the regime in exchange for promises of WMD reform, and has increasingly added to the difficulties and diminished the hopes, treatment and prospects of the North Korean refugees. The government of Russia has also alarmingly increased its political and material support for the North Korean regime and its policies.

Two further conditions exist that compel attention. First, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees has failed to take critical and available action to protect the North Korean refugees, to such an extent that its conduct has been defined by the North Korean Human Rights Act as an “abdication” of its “core responsibility.” Second, the United States has not done all that it can and should to support North Korean human rights progress and to protect the North Korean refugees.


  1. We believe that any country now committing acts of terror against its own people is, by its very nature, a vital threat to its neighbors and the world. Consequently, we strongly believe that, as established by the North Korea Human Rights Act, the United States must adopt a Helsinki model in its negotiations with the North Korean regime and must ensure that the United States negotiation agenda will always include, at the highest level of priority, such human rights issues as family unification, rule of law development, religious freedom, prison monitoring, and needs-based food distribution.
  2. We strongly believe that military action is neither called for nor needed in order to improve the conditions of the North Korean people or deal with the threats to the world order posed by the North Korean regime.
  3. We continue to strongly believe what many of us said in our letter to the President of February 15, 2004:

    [W]ere the … regime to open up its WMD programs for inspection and … agree, in seriously enforceable fashion, to renounce the use of those weapons against others … we believe it would be fully appropriate for the United States, and others, to make binding, military non-aggression commitments to the regime.

    However, we do not believe that financial aid should be given to the regime if it does no more than agree to curb its WMD activities. An exchange of promises whereby Pyongyang offers not to export its terrorism in exchange for license and subsidy from the United States to continue acts of brute terrorism against the people of North Korea would neither be moral, workable or realistic.

  4. We strongly believe that significant human rights and WMD reforms should be reciprocated by significant United States assistance, and will make every effort to ensure that such support is provided once the reforms are in place.
  5. We believe that the United States must do more to advance the cause of North Korean human rights and democratization.
  6. We believe that the United Nations should immediately adopt the recommendations of the report of its Special Rapporteur for North Korea, the U.N. Human Rights Commission Resolution of April 5, 2005 and the Brownback-Wolf letter of April 6, 2005 to Secretary General Kofi Annan. Should China continue to deny the UNHCR full access to the North Korean refugees, we believe it urgent for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to take more robust action to protect North Korean refugees and, at a minimum, to initiate binding, international arbitration proceedings against the government of China as authorized by the UNHCR China treaty of December 1, 1995.
  7. Critically, we believe that the government of China has not been adequately obliged to choose between good relations with the United States and the international community or its continued facilitation of the North Korean regime’s human rights and other WMD development policies, and, most particularly, for its unlawful treatment of North Korean refugees in China. We further believe that the United States should make clear to China its willingness to share the costs and burdens of properly treating the North Korean refugees, including a willingness by the United States to accept some of the refugees for admission into the United States.

Call to Action by the United States

We believe that:

  1. The President should rapidly appoint the Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights, as provided by the North Korea Human
    Rights Act;
  2. Congress should appropriate or the President should reprogram existing appropriations to ensure full funding for all programs authorized by the North Korean Human Rights Act, including an immediate increase of Voice of America and Radio Free Asia broadcasts into North Korea from three to twelve hours per day;
  3. The President should direct that greater efforts be made by United States intelligence community to document and provide photographic evidence of the North Korean regime’s gulags and its other human rights abuses;
  4. Congress should rapidly enact the Brownback-Bayh or McCain-Kennedy expansions of S-2 visas for persons and their families who offer important information regarding the development of unlawful WMD programs:
  5. The President should immediately initiate diplomatic negotiations with the government of Russia for the purpose of making clear that its current policies towards the North Korean regime will increasingly burden prospects for improved U.S.-Russian relations;
  6. The President should immediately initiate diplomatic discussions with the governments of Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and other former communist countries of Eastern Europe to seek their more public and robust leadership on behalf of a human rights based, Helsinki-model of diplomacy towards the North Korean regime;
  7. The President should immediately initiate urgent diplomatic negotiations with the Secretary General of the United Nations to ensure immediate action by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees towards the government of China for its clear violations of the treaty rights of North Korean refugees;
  8. Legislation modeled on the Jackson-Vanik and anti-apartheid laws should be immediately drafted, and actively considered, in
    response to China’s grossly unlawful and inhumane treatment of North Korean refugees.


The undersigned represent Americans of all faiths and political persuasions. We are determined, on an urgent, priority basis, to focus the efforts of our country on the human rights and WMD abuses of the North Korean regime and on the actions of all governments and international institutions that make those abuses possible.

We strongly believe that doing so will advance the cause of peace, and that ignoring the regime’s inhumane abuses against its own people, or entering into agreements that finance or legitimize the continuation of those abuses, will ultimately increase the risks of war.

We respect the sovereignty of North Korea, and oppose any military action against it by the United States or any other country.

We believe that, with encouragement from the Chinese government in particular, the policies of the North Korean regime can be transformed so that it abandons its WMD programs and dramatically improves its human rights record.

We believe that such reforms are, by far, the surest means of achieving the phased, long term and carefully negotiated unification of the two Koreas that serves the interests of all Koreans and the world community at large.

In Bok Byun
Korean-American Church Coalition
Senior Pastor
Seattle New Light Korean Church

Steven Chang
Korean Churches for North Korea

Young T. Hahn
Korean-American Church Coalition
New York Chongshin Presbyterian Church

Adrian Hong
Korean American Students Conference

Bruce Lee
PAETU Institute on Religion and Public Policy

Chang Ho Lim
Korean-American Church Coalition
Senior Pastor
Houston Korean Presbyterian Church

Sei Park
Executive Director
AEGIS Foundation

Pastor Douglas E. Shin
Exodus 21

Peter I Sohn
Korean-American Church Coalition
Senior Pastor
Bethel Korean Church

Philip Song
Korean Church Coalition
North Korea Freedom

Ki Sung Song
Korean-American Church Coalition
Senior Pastor
Los Angeles Korean Methodist Church

Reverend Young Goo Son
New York Commission to Help North Korea

Peter Ackerman
Freedom House

Kenneth Adelman
Defense Policy Board

Alan Adler
Friends of Falun Gong

C. Naseer Ahmad
Human Rights Committee
Ahmddiyya Muslim Community in the United States

Dr. Daniel Akin
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Don Argue, Ed.D.
Northwest University
Former President
National Association of Evangelicals

Winnie Bartel
Women In Touch Ministries

Commissioner W. Todd Bassett
National Commander
The Salvation Army

Gary Bauer
American Values

Peggy Birchfield
Executive Director
Religious Freedom Coalition

David C. Brown
Evangelical Child and Family Agency

George K. Brushaber
Bethel University

Kristy Childs
Executive Director & Founder

Pastor Chris Byrd
National Coordinator
Association of Life-Giving Churches

John E. Chowning
Vice President for Church and External Relations
Campbellsville University

Richard Cizik
Vice-President of Government Relations
National Association of Evangelicals

David Cooksey
Director of Pastoral Ministries
The Brethren Church

Charles J. Eusey
Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Director
Atlantic Union Conference
Seventh-Day Adventist Church

Reverend Jeff Farmer
Open Bible Churches

Dr. Frederick J. Finks
Ashland Theological Seminary

Bob Fu
China Aid Association

Joseph K. Grieboski
Institute on Religion and Public Policy

Charles Haynes
Senior Scholar
Freedom Forum

Warren L. Hoffman
Brethren In Christ Church

John C. Holmes, Ed.D
Director, Governmental Affairs
Association of Christian Schools International

Michael Horowitz
International Religious Liberty Project
Hudson Institute

Norma Hotaling
Executive Director
Sage Project, San Francisco

Dr. Clyde M. Hughes
General Overseer
International Pentecostal Church of Christ

Donna M. Hughes
Josephine Butler Forum
Carlson Chair in Women’s Studies
University of Rhode Island

Reverend Kenneth Hunn
Executive Director
The Brethren Church

Edward A. Hynes
Morality in America

Andrea Ireland
Director of Advocacy
Open Doors USA

Don Irvine
Accuracy In Media

Bruce P. Jackson
Project on Transitional Democracies

Charles Jacobs
American Anti-Slavery Group

Dr. Sushil Jain
Jain Society of Metropolitan Washington

B. Edgar Johnson
General Secretary (Ret.)
Church of the Nazarene

Dr. Jerry A. Johnson
Criswell College

B. Julie Johnson, PhD
Founding member
Survivor Services, Education and Empowerment Network

Reverend A. Barry Jones
World Evangelical Congregational Fellowship

Dr. Bruce W. Jones
Board of Directors
National Association of Evangelicals

Max Kampelman
Former Vice-Chairman and Member of the Board of Directors
United States Institute of Peace
United States Department of State

M. Ali Khan
Executive Director
American Muslim League

Jeff King
International Christian Concern
Achariya Swami Krishnapriya
Executive Director
Kashi Foundation

Dr. Richard Land
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Dr. Steve Lemke
Provost and Professor of Philosophy and Ethics
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Faith J. H. McDonnell
Liberty Initiative for North Korea

Reverend Robert C. McIntyre
Executive Director
Oakwood Services International, Inc.

Michael Meunier
American Coptic Association

Hedish Mirahmadi
Naqshbandi Sufi Order of America

Jimmy Mulla
Southern Sudanese Voice for Freedom

William J. Murray
Religious Freedom Coalition

Kamal Nawash
Free Muslims Coalition

Khai Q. Nguyen
Vietnam Human Rights Network

Ambassador Mark Palmer
Vice Chairman
Freedom House

David Neff
Editor and Vice-President
Christianity Today Magazine

Brian F. O’Connell
REACT Services

Michael O’Hanlon
Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies
Brookings Institute

Archbishop Timothy Paul, Ph.D., D.TH
World Bishops Council

Tim Peters
Founder & Director
Helping Hands Korea

Kathryn Cameron Porter
Leadership Council for Human Rights

Dianne Post
Women Take Back the Night

Reverend Keith Roderick
Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights

Reverend David Runnion-Bareford
Executive Director of Biblical Witness Fellowship
United Church of Christ

David Saperstein
Religious Actions Center of Reform Judaism

Nina Shea
Center for Religious Freedom
Freedom House

Dr. Jerry Sheveland
Baptist General Conference

Faye Short
RENEW Network

Reverend Michael W. Sigman
Evangelical Congregational Church

Radek Sikorski
Executive Director
New Atlantic Initiative

Dr. Robert L. Simonds
National Association of Christian Educators/Citizens for Excellence in Education

Jerry Smits
Midland Ministerial Alliance

Reverend Richard D. Snyder
Free Methodist Church of North America

Melanie Spillane
Kurdish Human Rights Watch, Inc.

Sarah N. Stern
American Jewish Congress

Jewelle E. Stewart
Interim President, NAE Women’s Commission

Sayyid M. Syeed, Ph.D.
Secretary General,
Islamic Society of North America

Dr. Joseph Tkach
Worldwide Church of God

Christina Trent
Institute for Women’s Studies
Emory University

Dr. Bill Vermillion
General Superintendent
Evangelical Church of North America

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations

John H. Wharton, Jr.
Business Professional Network

Luder Whitlock
Former President
Reformed Theological Seminary

Jennifer Windsor
Executive Director
Freedom House

Darrell S. Winger
General Secretary
Brethren In Christ Church

Alan F. H. Wisdom
Vice President
Institute on Religion & Democracy

Harry Wu
Executive Director
Laogai Research Foundation

Robert W. Yarbrough
New Testament Department Chair
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Larry E. Yonker
The Elevation Group

Michael Youash
Project Director
Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project

Institution names for identification purposes

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