Perspectives

Do Americans Have a Social Responsibility in Humanitarian Crises?


Omair Ali

Perspectives Editor

Through crowdfunding, community relief efforts and donations to other fundraising programs, Americans in general have been very generous in private donations for a variety of social issues. But to what extent does this generosity reach other nations, especially those with extreme poverty and oppression? Do Americans have the willingness to extend their hands to populations that may not hear anything positively of them, such as North Korea?

Through horrific survivor stories and well-documented evidence, the North Korean government has implemented extreme oppression of the population. North Korea has poor human development, widespread inequality and limited political and economic freedoms. Solving Stalinism in North Korea oppression is one of today’s greatest diplomacy challenges, but one that few have invested in.

The United States and North Korea relation seems to have deteriorated since President Trump has been in office, as North Korea accused America of declaring war. There appears to be no hope for diplomacy, given China’s interest in supporting North Korea as well as Japan and South Korea’s increasing frustrations with North Korea.

Maybe the oppression of North Koreans isn’t a matter for the government, but the American people through private efforts. Americans best understand the advantages for reasonably fair economic opportunities, political freedoms and the benefits of not living in a police state (none of which is found in oppressive nations like North Korea). Furthermore, if Americans commonly uphold the principles that every person ought to be treated equally and also be provided with basic goods, then perhaps oppression is against American principles and people would try to address these injustices. Rather than acknowledging North Korea’s strife, wouldn’t understanding the struggles of North Koreans or other oppressed groups and striving to better their conditions be a way to remain committed to these universal principles Americans believe in?

North Korean citizens suffer from many injustices including poor human development, widespread inequality and limited political and economic freedoms. Photo Credit: CNN.com.

Maybe preserving America’s sovereignty and prosperity are of utmost importance, but the internal oppression in North Korea or problems in any other humanitarian crisis do not pose a threat to our sovereignty. But this is indeed a matter of commitment to the universal principles that we might envision would bring good to humanity. Obtaining resources and information about global humanitarian crises followed by raising awareness is one viable way to begin a journey towards helping victims of crises in other nations.