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On September 24 President Obama announced his intent to nominate Robert R. King as Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues with the rank of Ambassador. Below is the official bio released by the WH:
Bob King has worked on Capitol Hill for the last 25 years, and for 24 of those years he was Chief of Staff to Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA). He was concurrently Staff Director of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives (2007-2008), Democratic Staff Director of the Committee (2001-2007) and held various professional staff positions on the Committee since 1993. After Congressman Lantos’ death, Mr. King continued as Committee staff director for Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-CA) for one year. As Staff Director of the Committee, Mr. King supervised committee staff on all aspects of its legislative, oversight and investigative work. Mr. King was heavily involved in the planning and conduct of Congressman Lantos’ human rights agenda, including the establishment and supervision of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, which recently became the Tom Lantos Congressional Human Rights Commission.
Prior to his service on Capitol Hill, Mr. King served on the National Security Council Staff as a White House Fellow during the Carter Administration. He was Assistant Director of Research and Analysis at Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany. Mr. King has also taught courses in U.S. foreign policy and international relations at the University of Southern California German Study Program, Brigham Young University Study Abroad, American University in Washington, D.C., New England College, and other institutions. He is author of five books and some 40 articles on international relations issues.
He earned a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a B.A. from Brigham Young University. Among his honors and recognitions, he received the Knight’s Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary. He is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
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The Office of the Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea was created by the North Korea Human Rights Act of 2004, which called for a Special Envoy to “coordinate and promote efforts to improve respect for the fundamental human rights of the people of North Korea.” This position and the human rights issue in North Korea figured prominently in the confirmation of Ambassador Stephens in 2008 and earlier this year, of Ambassador Hill. The previous occupant of this position was Jay Lefkowitz. See his final report here on Human Rights in North Korea.