Gwangju a Human Rights City
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History of Human Rights
  • Gwangju is a city known for its abundance of public spirit and community allegiance. Gwangju citizens have collectively fought against injustice when faced with a variety of crises. As demonstrated by such events as the Donghak Peasant Revolution, the Gwangju Students Independent Movement, the 5.18 Democratic Movement, and the June Democracy Movenment, Gwangju is a city that has fought fiercely for decades to protect Korea from those menaces seeking to impose injustice upon the people of Korea
  • Donghak Peasant Revolution

  • Gwangju Students Independent Movement

  • May 18 Democratic Movement

  • June Democracy Movement

Gwangju a Human Rights City, Historical bacground
  1. First in the country Enactment of Human Rights Promotion Ordinance

    - Enactment of the human rights promotion ordinance (2009) → Amended to the Ordinance on Guarantee and Promotion of Human Rights (2012)

    - Establish a basic plan for promoting human rights, develop and implement human rights indicators, establish a human rights training system, promote human rights activities Group support, expansion of Gwangju human rights charter practices, strengthening of international cooperation, operation of Citizen's Committee for promoting human rights, human rights Specify the responsibilities of Gwangju City for the promotion of civil rights of citizens such as the operation of the impact assessment system

  2. Established the country's first human rights agency
  3. Human rights violation prevention and relief, human rights ombudsman

    - Established in June 2013 as a self governing body for human rights violations to protect and promote human rights of citizens

    - Operating under a representative system with permanent and non-permanent ombudsman (no more than 7 persons)

    - Counseling, investigation, and advice on human rights violations and discrimination that has occurred in the administrative institution, the autonomous region, etc.

Gwangju Growing as a Global Human Rights City
  1. Following the May 18 Democratic Movement, Gwangju City began providing relief efforts to nations who suffered from the effects of natural disasters, such as Indonesia, Haiti, and Japan in the wake of severe earthquakes, and even South Korea's neighbors to the North following a series of devastating floods.
  2. Gwangju promotes many international human rights exchanges, as shown by its participation in or hosting of such programs as the Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates (2006), the World Women's Peace Forum (2007), the Coalition of Cities against Discrimination (2011.4), the Mayors for Peace (2011.8), and the UN Global Compact (2011.8).
  • Nobel Peace Laureates (2006)

  • The World Women’s Peace Forum (2007)

  • The Coalition of Cities against Discrimination (2011)

  1. The Gwangju Human Rights Office is the very first human rights office to have been established in Korea and it has authored the master plan for the archetypal "Human Rights City," including the vision, strategy, and practical tasks necessary for the development of such a city.
  2. The Office has created the "Charter of a Human Rights City," a blueprint and practical guideline for the Gwangju community in its continual pursuit of greater and greater human rights achievement, as well as a "Human Rights Ordinance," a proposal definining humans' rights and the responsibility we share in protecting and promoting these rights.
  3. The Office also set up a human rights index corresponding with Gwangju's character and its quantify of the achievements, complete with target benchmarks for the next 5 years, by which time it must fulfill these objectives and assess once more the state of human rights.
Extracted from Gwangju Human Rights Charter (21 May 2012 ‘Gwangju Citizens Day’ Proclamation) Charter Preamble
  1. Whereas recognition of the historical achievements of the Donghak Peasants' Uprising, the March 1st Independence Movement, the Gwangju Students' Independence Movement as well as the noble spirit of the April 19th Revolution, the May 18th Pro-democracy Movement being the foundation of Gwangju as a human rights city in accordance with universal values such as human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity,
  2. Whereas the Gwangju Human Rights Charter is established, based on such a conviction, with a view to realizing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and promoting democracy and justice,
  3. Whereas all citizens of Gwangju are entitled to enjoy all human rights as a member of a free and humane community, in areas of political, economic social, cultural and environmental nature, without distinction of any kind, such as race, gender, age, religion, disability, nationality, region of birth, economic and social status,
  4. Whereas the people of Gwangju have pledged themselves to join efforts to enhance their potential capacity for creative cultures, pursue the lives for peaceful unification and ecological sustainability while respecting diversity of life experiences,
  5. Whereas the Charter is an outcome of voluntary participation and open consultation among people of all walks of life, Now, therefore, The Mayor and the citizens’ representatives, with united spirits and aspirations of all citizens, solemnly proclaims this Gwangju Human Rights Charter which defines citizens’ rights and responsibilities as well as duties and will of Gwangju city as a commitment of Gwangju towards all generations of the past, present and the future of Gwangju as well as all peoples on the Korean peninsula, Asia and the world.

  1. Strengthening exchange with human rights related international organizations, NGOs

    - The adoption of the ‘Local Government and the Human Rights Report’, which the UN Human Rights Council introduced the case of human rights policy in Gwangju City (15. 8.)

    - UCLG-CISDP (Social Integration, Participatory Democracy, Human Rights Committee) joint leadership activities · Co-chaired by: Korea (Gwangju Metropolitan City), France, Mexico

    - Cooperation with international human rights organizations such as UCLG Human Rights Committee, Indonesia NGO Forum, UN OHCHR

Registration of records on May 18 Democratization Movement as UNESCO Memory of the World
  1. The records on May 18 Democratization Movement was inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register on May 25, 2011, thanks to the effort of the City Government, Inscription Promotion Committee, The May 18 Memorial Foundation, and the bereaved families of the victims.
  2. For this reason, the value and legacy of May 18 became a proud and recognized history of all of the world.
  3. As such, it is this city's aim that Human Rights, Democracy, and Peace will become universal values graven into the world by means of widespread human rights education and the fostering of awareness for matters of global justice.
  4. The May 18 Democratic Uprising records on the list of "UNESCO world record heritage? (May 25, 2011)

    - First entry in modern history data among domestic world record heritages

    - 9 subjects in total, 4,271 records, and 2,017 cuts of film and photographs

  5. The spiritual succession of the May 18 Democratic Uprising

    The May 18
    enhancement project

    - Established the basic plant of the May 18 commemoration project (2018 to 2022)
    - May 18 research support project
    - May 18 Preserving and utilizing historic sites

    Holding May 18
    commemoration events

    - Commemoration events with civilian participation
    - hold nationwide events

    Support for May 18
    democracy fighters

    - Life subsidy and funeral expenses support
    - Support for medical expenses for those severely injured during May 18

  6. Strong measures including legal measures towards distortion revilement of May 18 history

    Efforts to amend special law on the
    May 18 Democratic Uprising

    - Punishment provisions towards defamation acts including distortion revilement of May 18 history
    - The May 18 Democratic Uprising commemorative song designation

    'Committee for revealing the truth about the May 18
    Democratic Uprising and preventing distortion of history'

    - Operate historical distortion reporting center and legal advisory
    - History distortion data collection and case analysis

  7. Revealing the truth of the May 18 Democratic Uprising

    - Activities such as Installation of the organization for revealing the truth about the May 18 Democratic Uprising (February 2017) and publishing the true report of the helicopter shooting of the Jeonil building

    - Strengthening public relations activities through the National Assembly Special Act on "Finding the truth about May 18”

    - Support for truth investigation including state-level helicopter firing, air force fighter jets standby, etc.

  8. Remuneration for regaining the impaired reputation and historical pain healing for democratization activists and bereaved families of the Democratic uprising

    - Completion of the 7th Compensation Review as of 2018

    - A total of 8,721 applicants up until the 6th compensation, 5,517 recognition, compensation amount 245,211 million won decided

※ The actual number of people to be compensated: 4,634 persons, the number of May 18 Veterans Affairs registered in the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs: 4,252 persons

Records of 5·18 Democratization Movement