UNICEF and Epistemic Authority in North Korea, from Humanitarian Emergency to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), 1995-2015

Journal Article September, 2022, Journal of Peace and Unification, Vol.12, No.3, 통권 28호 pp. 87-122


This study analyzes the work of UNICEF in the DPRK (North Korea) from 1995 to the late 2000s, asking how and why UNICEF pursued development objectives, particularly in the field of education, despite refusal from key donors to countenance support for developmental programs in the DPRK and their insistence that aid should be confined to the humanitarian sphere. The core argument of this article is that UNICEF – a key UN agency with a semi-autonomous capacity – developed sufficient epistemic authority to legitimize humanitarianism and development as non-mutually-exclusive goals of DPRK operations and therefore allowed itself to pursue the implementation of educa-tional programs in North Korea, despite the reluctance of donors to provide support for development work in the country.

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