The United Nations (UN) has been the key contributor to the diffusion of human rights norms and practices in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The process of promoting human rights in the DPRK has been beset with challenges. The UN has had to steer its way through a complex web of international politics in order consistently to apply pressure on Pyongyang to amend its human rights norm-violating behavior. While achievements to date have been limited, this paper identifies the processes of socialization rather than coercion or inducements, as constituting the most promising avenue for the UN to impact North Korean governance. The paper will examine the evolution of UN socialization efforts in the DPRK to date, including how and under what mechanisms or conditions, socialization occurred, and what progress has been made by UN socialization dynamics.
Although the progress so far may have been limited at best, what has been achieved merits greater scholarly attention, in order to derive implications for future policy prescription with regard to promoting human rights in North Korea and beyond.