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Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Assistance to North Korea: What are the needs today after almost 20 years of aid projects and programs?

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This event is co-sponsored by The Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center.

About the Topic: Following several visits to North Korea in recent months, the most recent one in April 2014, Kathi Zellweger will focus her remarks on humanitarian aid, rehabilitation projects, and development cooperation in North Korea. The presenter’s findings will be supported by a number of facts and figures about the country and background information about the health sector. The speaker will identify the participants in the area of assistance along with the issues they face when providing aid. The talk will also provide insights into positive examples of projects, what is needed for projects to succeed, and how the type of aid required is changing. Based on nearly 20 years of work experience involving North Korea, Zellweger concludes that isolation and sanctions hinder development potential and that engagement is more likely to be a constructive and peaceful way forward. 

About the Speaker: Kathi Zellweger is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. Prior to that she was the Pantech Fellow in Korean Studies at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, in residence at Stanford University from November 2011 to August 2013. Most recently at Stanford she gave a course entitled “An Insight into North Korea Society” for  graduate  and undergraduate students. She is a frequent presenter on the topic of the situation of the North Korean people, to audiences in the U.S. and abroad. Zellweger has also made significant contributions in this field through her participation in workshops, seminars and conferences about humanitarian, as well as security, issues on the Korean peninsula, more specifically  regarding North Korea.  

Zellweger is a senior aid manager with over 30 years of field experience in Hong Kong, China and North Korea. She was based in Pyongyang for five years (2006-2011) as North Korea country director for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), an office of the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The focus of her work was on sustainable agricultural production in order to address food security issues, income generation to improve people’s livelihoods, and capacity development contributing to individual and institutional learning.

Before joining SDC, Zellweger worked from 1978 to 2006 for the Catholic agency Caritas in Hong Kong in a senior post; she played a key role in pioneering Caritas involvement initiatives in China and in North Korea.

Zellweger received the Bishop Tji Hak-soon Justice and Peace Award in 2005 from a South Korean foundation established to promote social justice, and in 2006 the Dame of St. Gregory the Great from the Vatican for her work in North Korea.