Rights right in his heart

Professor Chan-Un Park came to Lund in the autumn of 2012 and is spending his last few months at the Institute focusing on how human rights mechanisms can be implemented.  But however technical his research is, he himself believes human rights is starting in a state of mind.

– It has to start in people´s hearts, he says and presses a hand towards his chest. The law is our will as humans, our hearts. But the law can also be just words, and only a decoration, which is dangerous. I am interested in the implementation of the law.

Starting out as a practicing lawyer Chan-Un Park has a long career behind him before he decided to become an academic. Today he is the author of six books on human rights and theories around human rights and has published more than 30 articles in leading, international journals.

– In 2005 I was appointed Director General of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. I was set to write a plan to protect marginalized groups such as migrant workers and people with leprosy, amongst others. It was very rewarding – my goal was to move Korea to a real developed country beyond just an economically developed country, he explains.

In Lund he has had time to do some research on NHRI – National Human Rights Institutions. He has for instance compared how the Korean Institution he was heading is doing in an international comparison.

– I am worried the commission in Korea is not independent enough, he says. The shift in political power lately has made the Institution less sharp as a tool for forwarding human rights. I have also taken great interest in studying your “ombudsman”-system.

While in Lund professor Chan-Un Park has also had the opportunity to study old houses, one of his favorite past times. His wife and daughter have from time to time been visiting him, but he has had a lot of time to just stroll around and look at buildings on his own.

–Who designed them, and what kind of time were they living in? Changes in society and issues around legal and social transformation are intriguing. That is perhaps why I am interested in institutions that are here to bring out the best in us.

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