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 4.19 Revolution, and the 5.18 Democratic Movement, 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
    (1894)

  • Gwangju Students Independent Movement
    (1929)

  • 4ㆍ19 Revolution
    (1960)

  • May 18 Democratic Movement
    (1980)


Internationalized Human Rights
  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)


Foundation of Human Rights
  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.
Gwangju Human Rights Charter中 (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.


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.
Records of 5·18 Democratization Movement

[World Human Rights Cities Forum Secretariat] 1-2F, 5, Jungang-ro 196beon-gil, Dong-gu, Gwangju 61475, South Korea
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