Expert Pitch
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Expert available to discuss human rights as diplomacy efforts between the United States and North Korea unfold.


Shannon Blanton, Ph.D., specializes in the areas of international relations and foreign policy, with an emphasis on human rights, political violence and international political economy. 

Blanton's comments on diplomacy efforts with North Korea and the role of the U.S. in ensuring that the human rights of the North Korean people are upheld if negotiations continue:

  • "The international community – especially the United States – must continue to shine a spotlight on human rights abuse and call for improvements. We have to continue to advocate for human rights and press for improvement in how North Korea treats its people, particularly those who disagree with the government.  At the same time, it is simply unrealistic to adopt an absolutist position where we have no engagement with countries that repress their people. In doing so, we would forfeit the opportunity to shape relations around other key issues such as nuclear disarmament or peace on the Korean peninsula.  We can hope that diplomatic efforts will have at least indirect benefits that will help create a political and economic climate that is more conducive to respect for human rights."

  • "Short of radical regime change, states that improve their human rights conditions tend to do so gradually – and it is extremely unlikely that there will be regime change in North Korea. Pragmatically, we should expect strategic military-security priorities to overshadow our human rights concerns. However, the United States will need to maintain pressure to improve human rights conditions - while recognizing that we are more likely to make progress in other areas at this time. Agreements and treaties may provide some opportunity to express expectations about respect for fundamental human rights conditions and create leverage for encouraging change over time. The role for the US in these negotiations is to strike a balance between these various goals."

    Blanton is available for print interviews only.  


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