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5 - Advancing Human Rights, Advancing a Nation

Becoming a Seonjinguk via the National Human Rights Commission of Korea

from Part II - Institutional Mechanisms for Rights Claiming

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 April 2021

Celeste L. Arrington
Affiliation:
George Washington University, Washington DC
Patricia Goedde
Affiliation:
Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul
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Summary

This chapter examines human rights policies and their relationship to conceptions of the national interest, focusing on the 2001 establishment and subsequent functioning of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK). The chapter argues that one reason why Korea created and consolidated the NHRCK was to realize its desired identity as a seonjinguk (advanced country). Over time, with changes in political administrations, the definition of a seonjinguk transformed alongside human rights discourses, with implications for the NHRCK’s functioning as a channel for rights-claiming. By tracing the rise and subsequent weakening of the NHRCK from 2001 to 2012, this chapter demonstrates that national interest considerations shape state decisions about whether to comply with or disregard global human rights norms embodied in national human rights institutions like the NHRCK. It also illustrates the interplay between international and domestic human rights discourses.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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