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October 25, 2016
Canadian Excellence


Rhoda (Retired) Howard-Hassmann, PhD, FRSC

State-Induced Famine and Penal Starvation in North Korea

Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann

published: 2012 | Working paper | unpublished work

Abstract: This article discusses North Korea as a case of state-induced famine, or faminogenesis. A famine from 1994 to 2000 killed three to five per cent of North Korea’s population, and mass hunger reappeared in 2010-11, despite reform measures meant to address the shortage of food. In addition, a prison population of about 200,000 people is systematically deprived of food; this might be considered penal starvation. There seems little recourse under international law to punish the perpetrators of state-induced famine and penal starvation. State-induced famine does, however, fit some of the criteria of genocide in the United Nations Convention against Genocide, and could also be considered a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. This would seem, then, to be a case for referral of North Korea’s .3leader, Kim Jong Il, to the International Criminal Court. The larger question is whether state-induced famine, or faminogenesis, should be considered a separate crime under international law, as suggested by David Marcus.

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revised Jan 31/12

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