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Former Commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea Professor Kwak No-hyun Visits the Control Yuan

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Former Commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea Professor Kwak No-hyun Visits the Control Yuan

Former commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea Professor Kwak No-hyun visited the Control Yuan on the morning of November 17, 2015 and met with Vice President Sun Ta-chuan to talk about the Control Yuan’s role in government supervision and human rights protection, as well as issues related to establishing a national human rights institution (NHRI) that complies with the Paris Principles.

Speaking from his previous experience as an activist pushing for the establishment of a national human rights commission and long-term involvement in international human rights works, Prof. Kwak recognizes the Control Yuan’s independence and autonomy as a constitutional organ with a powerful mandate, describing it as an “all-in-one” external monitoring body. However, the Control Yuan should take special heed in transitioning into an NHRI, taking into account that human rights are broad and inclusive. They involve many international treaties and conventions and require input from the civil society. Furthermore, an NHRI focuses more on the promotion, rather than protection, of human rights. To that end, a team of experts with extensive knowledge and experience in human rights protection will be the key to realizing the NHRI’s role in promoting human rights.

Given the difference in the constitutional systems, the Korean experience may not be the best reference in determining whether a dual-track or a single-track system is more preferable for Taiwan, Prof. Kwak says. Speaking from personal experience, Prof. Kwak encourages the Control Yuan to strengthen human rights knowledge and expertise of its members and staff and discard the traditional post supervision approach to redressing malfeasance. Given its high level of independence, the Control Yuan is well placed to realize the NHRI’s role as human rights guardian. Vice President Sun thanks Prof Kwak for his suggestions, stating that the Control Yuan has been actively assessinng different approaches to enhance its role as a guardian of human rights. Although the road ahead is filled with political and legislative obstacles and diverging opinions, once the proposition wins the support of the majority on all fronts, the Control Yuan will strive to find a common ground for all and live up to its role as an effective and competent human rights institution.

Prof. Kwak was a commissioner and secretary general of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, and a member of both the Advisory Council of Jurists and ICC Sub-Committee on Accreditation of Asia Pacific Forum. He has been invited by the Preparatory Office of National Human Rights Museum of the Ministry of Culture to present at the 2015 International Conference on Human Rights, Human Rights Museum and Civil Culture held from Nov 16 through 18. He is accompanied by the Covenants Watch Taiwan convener Dr. Huang Song-lih and executive board member Huang Yi-bee.