The Hon. Michael Kirby Speaks About North Korea and Human Rights

On 12 May 2017, William Roberts Lawyers were delighted to host the Hon. Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG, former justice of the High Court of Australia, as part of our Sydney Leadership Series.

Mr Kirby was invited to speak about his role in leading the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (‘DPRK’) in the era of Donald Trump.

The report of the Commission, released in February 2014, outlined systematic and severe violations of human rights by the DPRK against its own citizens and against foreign nationals. The report was endorsed by the UN Security Council and General Assembly, and “created somewhat of a sensation in an already sensational environment”.

Mr Kirby outlined that the Commission utilised a common law approach derived from the Anglo/American legal tradition.

Mr Kirby warned that the current situation on the Korean peninsula is “extremely serious” and “a matter of grave concern” for all citizens of the world.

“A country that breaches human rights so blatantly is not a good citizen of the world”.

Mr Kirby suggested that a round table discussion involving North Korea, South Korea, the United States, Russia, China and/or Japan would be a sensible first step. Mr Kirby was hopeful that recent changes to the US and South Korean governments may present an opportunity to restart discussions.

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