Negotiating with biases: How culture and human rights variables alter the negotiation framework with north korea

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This paper examines the cultural and human rights gaps in understanding that have impeded negotiations with North Korea due to culturally based negotiation biases within the context of East-West cross-border negotiations-a term the author refers to as a "barbarian bias"-that is linked to the human rights issue, as promulgated in such examples as the North Korean Human Rights Act (the Act). While the Act represented a good faith effort to improve the internal human rights conditions of North Korea, the foreseeable net effect of such legislation was the DPRK's reinforced notion of a hostile international community against it, led most notably, in North Korea's view, by the United States. In effect, North Korea holds the view that human rights may vary depending on culture (i.e. a view based on the theory of "cultural relativism" rather than "universalism"). Perhaps for this reason, North Korea's past negotiation behavior reflects the belief that the implementation of the human rights issue through offshore legislation, vis-à-vis the North Korean Human Rights Act, into its domestic framework is one variant of a "barbarian bias" in which the DPRK, in its own subjective view, is being unilaterally told (rather than asked through mutual cooperation), how and to what degree, human rights issues should be treated in its own sovereign territory. Such human rights and culturally based variables represent a notable impediment as they relate to negotiations with North Korea, which has not fully been considered in the relevant literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-238
Number of pages20
JournalKorean Journal of Defense Analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2009


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