Chairperson Ahn Kyong‐Whan
National Human Rights Commission of Korea
7 December 2007
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen!
I would like to extend my warm welcome to all of you here in this seminar for promoting the human rights in the local communities. I am greatly honored to co‐host this meaningful event in tandem with the British Embassy Seoul and Chonnam National University.
The cooperation between the National Human Rights Commission and the British Embassy has continued since the founding of the Commission. Our partnership has been affirmed on many occasions, particularly in the international workshop on human rights education for the creation of human rights friendly school culture jointly held by two organizations in February this year.
The Commission has also closely worked with Chonnam National University in various dimensions since both parties signed the memorandum of understanding to promote human rights last December. It is my understanding that the university with its firm commitment to human rights is now playing a key role in promoting human rights education at the local level.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank these two organizations for having been fully cooperative until now and joining this effort to advance human rights in local communities.
Today we are living together with about 1 million migrants in Korea, and the number of migrants in this country is growing fast. It implies that this country is getting increasingly internationalized and multicultural. The existence of different cultures and languages in a country has entailed a host of new challenges in the context of human rights. For instance, those challenges present themselves in employment of migrant workers, child raising by the couples of international marriage, and the issues related to the undocumented migrants. In particular, the social integration of migrants is the challenge that must be resolved in collaboration with the local communities. There is an increasing recognition of the need to address these issues at the earliest possible. However, it is not easy to deal with them especially when we have little relevant experience. In this context, I hopefully expect that this seminar will provide a basis for an increased understanding of the cultural and ethnic diversity and for substantive policy measures.
Family, school and the community cannot be isolated from each other. For this reason, I hope that this occasion will help generate a new tie between the local government and the educational administration to promote human rights at the local level.
Lastly but most importantly, I would like to express my gratitude to two Commissioners from the Commission on Integration and Cohesion, Prof. Michael Keith and Ms. Leonie McCarthy, who are with us today to share the valuable experiences of the United Kingdom. Special thanks are also due to the speakers of this seminar who take time out of their busy year‐end schedule to prepare for the discussions here.
Korea ‐ UK Seminar on Social Integration and Cohesion
– In partnership with the National Human Rights Commission of Korea and Youngnam University and Chonnam National University -
His Excellency Warwick Morris
Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of Korea
30 November 2007
I would like to express my sincere thanks to the National Human Rights Commission and Youngnam University and Jeonnam National University for hosting these important fora, and to all of you for attending today. I am also most grateful to Professor Michael Keith and Leonie McCarthy for travelling all the way from the UK to work with the British Embassy and so many distinguished South Korean establishments.
Migration is a growing phenomenon. Globalisation, conflict, climate change and poverty are all big drivers. More and more countries are realising the challenges, and opportunities, of managing migration.
Britain has a rich and varied history of immigration. I believe this diversity is a huge asset to our country ‐ economically, culturally and socially. Immigration has helped transform our economy, supporting growth and boosting productivity. London's strength as a financial centre is in part due to the recognition across the world that Britain has long been open to new people, to new ideas and to new products. Immigration has helped enrich our cultural life, with our capital's diversity now commonly acknowledged to be one of its key attractions.
Last year the British government established a Commission on Integration & Cohesion to consider what local and practical action is needed to overcome the barriers to integration and cohesion. The Commission will look at how local authorities and community organisations can be encouraged to play a greater role in ensuring that new immigrants better integrate into our communities and fill labour market shortages. We are lucky to have two Members of that Commission with us in South Korea for these seminars.
It is not so long since Korea was known as the Hermit Kingdom, but today the number of immigrants in South Korea exceeds 1 million and the rate of increase is accelerating. These include foreign workers, ethnic Koreans from overseas, international students, teachers, foreign spouses ‐ an increasing number of women from South‐East Asia ‐ and employees of multi‐national companies. The deeply ingrained idea of homogeneous ethnicity in Korea’s identity is being challenged, as the country becomes a noticeably more multi‐cultural and poly‐ethnic society.
I believe therefore that these seminars and a series of similar events this week are very timely. Our guest speakers will hold discussions with the Immigration Service and with the local governments of Gyeonggi‐do, Seoul City, Daegu and Gwangju. These discussions will provide a forum in which to share views and experiences, good and bad, to support South Korea's efforts for the successful social integration of its new immigrants. There are certainly challenges to be faced by all of us concerned, but the practical benefits of a diverse society are enormous.
I hope speakers, listeners and all participants in these seminars will find them enjoyable, thought provoking, informative and beneficial.
(This document includes the written agenda presentations from the 'International Multi-Cultural Seminar' in Daegu and Gwangju co-hosted by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, British Embassy in Korea, Yeungnam University, and Chonnam National University on November 8 - 9, 2007.
The International Multi-Cultural Seminar was held to raise awareness of migrants' rights and further their social integration in Korean society, where the number of migrants now exceeds one million. Michael Keith and Leonie McCarthy (Commissioners, British Commission on Integration and Cohesion), and Ji-Hun Lee (Human Rights Solidarity for Women and Migrants) made agenda presentations. Among the participants in the panel discussion were human rights experts from Gyeongsang and Jeolla Province. This document contains only the greetings by the hosting organizations and written agenda presentations by those who made presentations on the main topic.)