North Korea has a terrible human rights record. One could reasonably believe the U.S. side should bring up these human rights violations when President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet in Singapore on Tuesday. Here’s why that’s a bad idea.
The focus of the summit is North Korea’s nuclear program. As with previous arms control efforts, for instance between the United States and the Soviet Union, attempts to include issues unrelated to the central conflict generally derail the negotiations.
Efforts to shame North Korea into improving its human rights record haven’t been particularly successful; the North Koreans usually just walk out of the room. However, respectful engagement at an intergovernmental level, for instance on disability rights, has led to some progress.