Partridge: Conditional Aid Needed for North Korea

A view of Pyongyang, North Korea's capital. Photo by: Kok Leng Yeo / CC BY Kok Leng YeoCC BY

Any form of humanitarian assistance to North Korea should be dependent on political reform, transparency and control, a journalist writes.

“Without controls, conditions or accountability, aid to North Korea could end up strengthening the regime by enabling it to withhold food from dissidents,” writes Matthew Partridge in an article for the Guardian.

Partridge is reacting to a report released by aid organization Amnesty International regarding the current food and health crisis in North Korea.

The aid group condemns the North Korean government for hampering the fast and fair delivery of food aid to the population but urges the international community to “ensure that the provision of humanitarian assistance in North Korea is based on need and is not subject to political conditions”.

Partridge argues that “[a]lthough it is understandable to suggest that delivery of humanitarian aid should take priority over other factors, this [giving aid to North Korea without controls, conditions or accountability] is seriously shortsighted viewpoint which goes against the emerging consensus that unrestricted aid can have serious unintended consequences.”

“So what minimum conditions should be attached to humanitarian assistance from international bodies? Any programs should be run directly by the aid organization in question without any interference by North Korea’s government and with the military and police apparatus being excluded from help,” he adds.

About the author

  • Chiden Balmes

    Chiden, a correspondent based in Seoul, focuses on computer-assisted reporting to provide international development professionals with practical business and career information. He also contributes to the Development Newswire and the Global Development Briefing, two of the world's highest-circulation development publications.