A century ago, the suffragist Jane Addams boarded a ship with other American women peace activists to participate in a Congress of Women in The Hague.
On Nov. 18, a committee of the United Nations General Assembly voted
111 to 19, with 55 abstentions, in favour of drafting a non-binding resolution referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Today millions of women workers from across the globe made history. From June 16, domestic workers secured the passage of the ILO Convention on domestic work for governments to ratify into law.
On April 28, former US President Jimmy Carter and three former European heads of state landed in Seoul after travelling to Pyongyang to help reopen dialogue between the two Koreas. Known as the Elders, they carried this message to the leaders of South Korea and the United States: "Chairman and General Secretary Kim Jong-il said he is willing and the people of North Korea are willing to negotiate with South Korea or with the United States or with the six powers on any subject any time and without any preconditions."
One year after U.S. President Barack Obama's inauguration, how has his administration fared in terms of advancing an agenda for women's rights around the world?
The US and South Korea are working around the clock to sign the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KorUS FTA), which would become the second largest trade deal after NAFTA, writes Christine Ahn, a policy analyst with the Korea Policy Institute and Oakland Institute and a member of the Korean Americans for Fair Trade coalition. In this article, Ahn writes that Wall Street corporations and South Korean chaebols are salivating at the opportunity to increase their portion of 72 billion dollars in business the two countries trade annually. Normally, such a trade deal would breeze through the halls of the US Congress and the Korean National Assembly. But times have changed. The public discourse on free trade is no longer just about the ability of corporations to move their capital freely across borders. It\'s about the anger and frustration of middle and working class people who see their security dwindling to further line the pockets of white-collar business executives. That anger can then express itself during elections, ousting officials mired in the rhetoric of the last century. Free trade is over, and hopefully the social justice movements in the United States will unite with the energising movements in South Korea to stop this antiquated regime.
The government of South Korea is waging alarming levels of violence and repression against its people to help the US enlarge its military presence, writes Christine Ahn, policy analyst with the Korea Policy Institute, fellow with the Oakland Institute, and a member of KAWAN, Korean Americans Against War and Neoliberalism. In this article, Ahn writes that under the Pentagon\'s 2003 Global Posture Review, the US Forces in Korea are changing their historic role of defending South Korea to having more \'strategic flexibility\' to deal with conflicts in the region while handing back responsibility to South Korea to defend itself, while using the peninsula as a launching pad. Last September 22,000 riot police marched into Daechuri to bulldoze 68 homes and the village human rights centre. This was the second demolition after the one in May when 20,000 police brutally attacked several hundred villagers who used only their bodies to prevent them from destroying their rice paddies and homes. To many Koreans the struggle in Pyongtaek has become a part of its ongoing history of invasion and occupation by foreign forces and a symbol of Korea\'s division. Many South Koreans view the US\' amplified military presence in South Korea as fuelling tensions with North Korea and an obstacle to reunification.
Last month, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution led by the US and the EU condemning North Korea for its human rights violations. While North Korea needs to address allegations of torture and prison camps, impeding its development will not improve the human rights of 22 million North Koreans, writes Christine Ahn, a Fellow with the Oakland Institute and author of the 2005 Food First Report, \'\'Famine and the Future of Food Security in North Korea\'\'. In this article, the author writes that the North Korean government met opposition from the US and many western nations when it asked the UN to transition from humanitarian assistance, such as food aid, to supporting development projects. It says it has enough food, but instead needs concrete aid in developing its agricultural and industrial sectors. Ongoing humanitarian assistance, largely in the form of food aid, has not helped advance the security of North Koreans. The difference between sending food aid versus development assistance is the difference between sending one kilogram of corn versus one kilogram of maize seeds that can yield 180 kilograms of corn. Development assistance, such as ensuring proper seed production and crop-growing technologies, is the most efficient way to improve agriculture and implement lasting solutions to North Korea\'s food crisis.
On July 22, 2004, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed the North Korea Human Rights Act (NKHRA), writes Christine Ahn, who coordinates the Economic and Social Human Rights Programme at the Institute for Food and Development Policy and is a member of the Korea Solidarity Committee of the San Francisco Bay Area. In this article, the author writes that the bill was backed by a coalition of right-wing evangelical Christian groups and pro-war thinktanks that believe the collapse of the regime will usher in freedom for North Koreans. It demonstrates US policymakers\' complete ignorance of North Korea, the conditions that have caused famine there, and the ensuing human rights crisis. The NKHRA is based on the assumption that the famine in North Korea was a result of Kim Jong Il\'s mismanagement of the country. Most experts, on the other hand, agree that the main causes of famine were a series of catastrophic events beyond North Korea\'s control: the collapse of the Soviet Union, which brought an end the shipments of oil needed to run tractors and other agricultural machinery, and a series of the historic droughts and floods. A letter signed by over 100 NGOs states that the bill would not improve human rights but would further hinder international humanitarian aid and negotiations for peace on the Korean peninsula.