×

Fill out the brief form below for access to the free report.

  • George W. Bush Institute

    Content & Resources

  • Through our three Impact Centers -- Domestic Excellence, Global Leadership, and our Engagement Agenda -- we focus on developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action to solve today’s most pressing challenges.

I'm interested in dates between:
--

Taking Action

Advancing Policy

Developing Leaders

Issues

I have minutes to read today:

Programs & Issues

Taking Action

Advancing Policy

Developing Leaders

Issues

Publication Type
Date Range
I'm interested in dates between:
--
Reading Time

I have minutes to read today:

The Power of the Spotlight

July 21, 2011 3 minute Read by Amanda Schnetzer

North Korea is one of the most secretive regimes in the world.  But this week, we get a glimpse inside its sprawling prison complex thanks to a new report that is based, in part, on interviews with more than 210 North Korean defectors.  The report, according to the English language Korea Herald, found that there are more than 130,000 political prisoners living in five squalid labor camps and thousands of others crammed into other facilities across the country.  These prisoners suffer harsh treatment and malnutrition and live in deplorable conditions. These findings – released by the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights – are in line with and seem relatively conservative compared to reports released by Amnesty International.  In May, that organization released satellite images that suggest that the North’s labor camps may be expanding, and it also estimates that the regime is holding something close to 200,000 of its 24.5 million people as political prisoners. As discouraging as such reports might be, they are also critically important.  Victor Cha, a professor at Georgetown and former director for Asian affairs for the National Security Council, explained recently how spotlighting human rights abuses can pressure even regimes as repressive as the one that controls North Korea.  He noted that several years ago the United States created a special envoy for human rights in North Korea, a simple act that forced South Korea, Japan, and other nations to question whether they were doing enough to expose abuses in North Korea. The United States also turned up the heat on the North with another simple act.  In 2005, President George W. Bush met with Kang Chol Hwan, a North Korean gulag survivor and co-author of The Aquariums of Pyongyang, and then released a photo of the two of them shaking hands.  That photo “spread like wildfire across the entire world,” Cha said.  Soon enough, “people in Asia were asking, ‘Well, why doesn’t our government have a North Korean Human Rights Envoy?’” The power of that question stems from basic assumptions: that every human life has value and that every person yearns to be free.  Those are the same assumptions that lead us to feel anguish over severe human rights abuses.  Spotlighting such abuses compels free peoples to insist that all human life be treated as precious.


Author

Amanda Schnetzer
Amanda Schnetzer

Amanda Schnetzer is Director of Global Initiatives at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas. In this role, she is responsible for developing innovative research, programmatic, and policy efforts to advance societies rooted in political and economic freedom and to empower women to lead in their communities and countries. Previously she served as the Bush Institute’s founding director of the Human Freedom Initiative. 

Amanda has twenty years of experience in the international arena and a background in public policy research and analysis, public affairs, and management of diverse, high-level stakeholders. As senior fellow and director of studies at Freedom House in New York, Amanda guided research for the organization’s definitive studies of freedom. She began her career at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, supporting research on U.S. foreign policy and international politics. Amanda is a published writer and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds degrees from Georgetown University and Southern Methodist University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

Full Bio

Related Articles: