[Viewpoint] We should be doing better after G-20

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[Viewpoint] We should be doing better after G-20

Last week, the attention of the world was focused on Korea as the host of the G-20 Summit, and President Lee Myung-bak praised Korean citizens for pulling off the significant international convention.

However, despite the confidence gained from the successful hosting of the meeting, there apparently is no time for basking in the glory. The National Human Rights Commission is going through an ordeal.

The National Human Rights Commission is in charge of the human rights status of the people, which reflects the level of national dignity the country is trying to establish.

Sixty-one members of the commission resigned this week, urging the incumbent chairman to step down. The move led others to form groups supporting and opposing the resignations.

What’s more worrisome is that extremely hostile expressions are being used against the commission members and the officials calling for the chairman’s resignation.

They are described as having “a conspiracy backed by outside forces” and “a rebellious intention of the progressive faction.”

In any society or organization, members can have different opinions. However, not all differences are criticized as ideological confrontations.

If you consider a certain social discord to be simply “every man for himself,” the solution would only be possible in a primitive society ruled by the laws of the jungle.

Moreover, it is not appropriate to define internal differences that arise in the course of the internal operation of a state-run organization simply as “an intentional move of a certain group with a political purpose.” We displayed the art of mediation and negotiation as chair of the G-20 Summit.

Here, I have to ask why such techniques are not being used to solve the real problems in our society.

The problems in the National Human Rights Commission that the members have pointed out are important issues we need to consider to reinforce the independence of the commission, to react responsibly to the human rights challenges and to normalize the operation of the commission.

Why can’t we have sufficient time to think about the status and operation of the commission? No one has yet to provide an answer.

Neither the members demanding the resignation of the chairman nor the incumbent chairman refusing to step down has a solution. The social organizations criticizing the members as rebellious do not have alternatives for progressive development of the commission either.

A future-oriented plan for the National Human Rights Commission will be the key in resolving the discord. We need to make strenuous efforts to turn the ongoing trouble into a progressive task to bring changes to better protect the human rights of the people.

The person who has the most important role in solving the tangle is the incumbent chairman. If resignation is not an alternative, he needs to present a plan to resolve the problems.

Unfortunately, the chairman has not been able to resolve the problems of the commission.

Moreover, meaningless ideological confrontation outside the commission would not help to improve the situation. Conservatives and progressives cannot have differences when it comes to human rights.

The task of safeguarding human rights is a universal value that should be pursued not through ideological confrontation but through policy moderation.

For Korea to be a worthy G-20 member, we have to at least overcome long-pending ideological confrontations.

We must not forget the original meaning of the National Human Rights Commission and learn from the attention other countries have given to similar organizations.

We should not give up the confidence of fixing the apparent problems at the commission. The course of seeking solutions for the normal operation and maintenance of the National Human Rights Commission is just as important as securing the status as a G-20 chair country.

The government and officials need to make progressive efforts to keep the organization alive and to have it grow.

The negotiations and moderation sought by the National Human Rights Commission would be the yardstick reflecting the status of the nation.

*The writer is a professor of public administration at Pai Chai University.


By Chung Young-chung
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