Saturday, April 30, 2011

State Department rejects Carter's claims of human rights abuse over food aid

The US State Department has clearly refuted the idea stated by former President Jimmy Carter that South Korea and the United States withholding food aid constitutes human rights violations:
The U.S. State Department on Friday refuted charges by former President Jimmy Carter that the United States and South Korea were withholding food aid from North Korea for political motives.

The blame for North Korea's food shortage belongs to the North Korean government, a State Department official said.

The State Department's response came the same day that the United Nations World Food Programme announced plans to begin emergency food distribution to 3.5 million North Koreans, primarily women and children, who are starving after a harsh winter decimated crops.

Carter rankled U.S. officials this week after accusing the United States and South Korea of human rights violations by withholding food aide. He made the comments at the end of a three-day visit to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, a visit that had been intended to promote north-south dialogue on the Korean peninsula, revive a denuclearization process and assess food shortages.
The State Department is absolutely right that the onus is on Pyongyang and Pyongyang alone. However, I think Carter does have a point that it may be unethical or immoral to withhold aid that would otherwise have been provided, simply because of a hardline stance against North Korea over their recent actions.

That is, providing the food aid does not prop up the regime or allow it to continue, right? And withholding it only causes innocents to suffer, right?

Only if withholding the food hastens North Korea's peasantry and rank-and-file party members to stop supporting Kim Jong-il's rule would I say it's a clear-cut case.


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