The Lampert Institute Hosts Lecture on North Korean Human Rights

Sandra Fahy, associate professor of anthropology and program director of global and international studies at Carleton University, joined members of the Colgate community via Zoom on Oct. 25 to discuss human rights in North Korea.

The lecture, titled “Can North Korea Protect Human Rights?”, was sponsored by the Lampert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs, and Fahy was introduced by associate professor of political science and Lampert Institute Director, Ilan Nam.

“In inviting a social anthropologist, Professor Sandra Fahy, a North Korea expert who has conducted extensive interviews with North Korean defectors, to share her findings with the Colgate community, I hope students obtained more knowledge about a very closed regime and the various tools of coercion and propaganda it uses to control its population and maintain its grip on power,” Nam said.

As a social anthropologist, Fahy explained the continued abuses taking place in North Korea, such as crimes against humanity and violations of the right to food, expression, life and movement. Her research details how prison camps, torture, arbitrary detention, discrimination and disappearances abound in North Korea. 

Junior Angela Mangione attended the event for her international law class and commented on the importance of events like these for Colgate students, especially those focusing on politics and humanities.

“I was interested in this talk specifically because so much of what North Korea does within its borders is unknown or distorted to the greater world community,” Mangione said. “I wanted to hear an expert, Sandra Fahy, talk about her knowledge of the human rights violations happening inside of North Korea, a topic [of] which I previously had extremely limited knowledge.”

Lampert Scholar and senior Erin Flannery attended the event as a part of her commitment to the Lampert Institute. Flannery spoke about the importance of bringing attention to global issues such as these that often are on the periphery of public attention.

“It was very enlightening to hear about the perspective of an expert in this field who studies a country that’s completely off the radar,” Flannery said. “I found the segment about information and media campaigns interesting as the speaker described the system of paid actors that help promote [North Korea’s] ideals.”

Flannery and Mangione upheld Nam’s expectations for the event, wherein she hoped students would gain an understanding of the tactics of an oppressive government.

“Given rising tensions on the Korean peninsula in recent years due to the North Korean regime’s development of its nuclear capabilities, it seemed an opportune moment to host an event that enabled Lampert Scholars as well as other Colgate students to learn more about the regime, including its record of human rights abuses and the effects upon its citizenry,” Nam said.