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S. Korean scholar elected to UN Human Rights Committee

Prof. Soh Chang-rok (Permanent Mission of the Repulic of Korea to the United Nations)
Prof. Soh Chang-rok (Permanent Mission of the Repulic of Korea to the United Nations)

A South Korean expert on human rights has been elected as a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, the body that monitors civil and political rights, the Foreign Ministry said Friday. 

Soh Chang-rok, a professor based at the Korea University Graduate School of International Studies, will serve a four-year term starting in 2021 as one of 18 individual experts on the committee, which oversees the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its member states. 

The 59-year-old scholar is the first Korean to serve in the post since the country ratified the covenant in 1990. The covenant is a key international human rights treaty adopted in 1966, which focuses on civil and political rights such as the right to life, freedom of religion, speech, assembly, fair elections, due process and fair trials. 

The election was held at the UN headquarters in New York on Thursday (local time), with 14 candidates running to fill nine vacancies left by panelists whose terms are due to expire at the end of this year. Soh was endorsed by 117 of the 173 member states. 

Soh is one of Korea’s leading human rights experts. He currently heads Human Asia, a Seoul-based nongovernmental organization that focuses on human rights, and is a member of the UN Human Rights Council’s advisory committee as well as its working group on communication. 

The Foreign Ministry said that with Soh as part of the UN committee, it hopes Seoul will contribute further to the international efforts to protect and enhance human rights.

By Ahn Sung-mi (