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President and Mrs. George W. Bush Address North Korea's Human Rights and Security Challenges

George W. Bush Institute Releases Policy Recommendations on the path forward in North Korea, scholarship for North Korean Refugees

November 30, 2016

Yesterday, President George W. Bush called for the international community to focus on North Korea’s human rights abuses and grave security threats.  Mrs. Laura Bush announced the creation of a scholarship for North Korean refugees rebuilding their lives in the United States. 

At a policy forum at the Bush Institute, President Bush said, “The security challenge and the humanitarian challenge are closely linked. The threat we face arises out of the nature of the North Korean regime itself. The lesson of history is clear: A country that does not respect the rights of its people will not respect the rights of its neighbors.”

That sentiment is at the core of new policy recommendations released today by the Bush Institute. Light Through The Darkness: Toward a New Policy and Strategy for North Korea lays out core principles of national security strategy for North Korea, and embeds actionable items that both establish and integrate human rights in a new policy approach.

In his remarks, President Bush also called on Americans to “show our commitment to human rights for the North Korean people by supporting the refugees in our midst.”

“The warm welcome of refugees is one the truest expressions of our national character,” he continued. “It shows the broad reach of American ideals and the good heart of the American people. Refugees often risk everything to arrive in our country, having traveled dark paths of suffering and loss.”

In announcing the scholarship program, Mrs. Bush noted the “small, but growing, community of North Korean refugees living right here in the United States” and noted the challenges and opportunities they face as they begin their new lives.

“Although it’s difficult, most North Koreans are adjusting well. They are working, in some cases multiple jobs, and providing for their families,” said Mrs. Bush. “When we asked them about their dreams and goals, several spoke of their desire to improve themselves through education. But they find it difficult, given high education costs and their commitments to family and work. At the Bush Center, we want to help these refugees on their path to success.”

The scholarship program, part of the Bush Institute’s commitment to developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action, benefits North Korean escapees and helps them build productive, prosperous lives as new Americans. Funded by the Bush Institute and administered by the Communities Foundation of Texas, these scholarships will support escapees in pursuing a range of educational opportunities and help them to realize their potential. 

At the event, Washington Post Columnist Michael Gerson led a bipartisan policy discussion with Senator Cory Gardner, former Senator Joseph Lieberman, Ambassador Robert Gallucci, and Bush Institute Fellow Victor Cha.

The Forum concluded with a conversation featuring North Korean escapees Grace Jo and Joseph Kim as well as Ambassador Robert King, the Obama Administration’s Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights. 

For more information on the Bush Institute’s Policy Recommendations, Toward a New Policy and Strategy for North Korea, please visit http://www.bushcenter.org/NK or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Instagram.  


About the Bush Institute:

Housed within the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the George W. Bush Institute is an action-oriented, nonpartisan policy organization with the mission of developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action to solve today’s most pressing challenges. The work is achieved through three Impact Centers – Domestic Excellence, Global Leadership, and our Engagement Agenda – by which the Bush Institute engages the greater community with its important work.