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Kyung-wha Kang

Board Member

Korea

Kyung-wha (given name) Kang (surname) is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Ewha Woman's University in Seoul, Korea.  She served as the 38th and the first female Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea from June 2017 to February 2021. Throughout her career in Seoul, Geneva, and New York, she has been a steadfast advocate for human rights and women's advancement.

During her ministerial tenure, Dr Kang spearheaded the Republic of Korea's efforts to win global support for its initiative to engage with North Korea to bring about lasting peace and complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula while deepening the country's diplomatic relations with other regions and countries. During her tenure, she actively participated in multilateral discussions on human rights, nonproliferation, peacekeeping, development cooperation, and the Covid19 pandemic response.

Joining the Foreign Ministry in 1998, Dr Kang specialized in UN affairs. She consequently served as Deputy Director-General for International Organizations and was dispatched to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the UN in New York in 2001.

Later, serving as Director-General for International Organizations in 2005-2006, Dr Kang tirelessly engaged in negotiations at the UN General Assembly on various issues, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

In early 2007, Dr Kang joined the UN following her appointment in late 2006 to Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights by then Secretary-General Kofi Annan. For over six years in the position, she supported and complemented the leadership of High Commissioners Louise Arbour and Navi Pillay on human rights issues.

In April 2013, Dr Kang was appointed by then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator (DERC) and Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. Supporting and complementing the leadership of the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Dr Kang continued to give focused attention to vulnerable people and sought to advance their presence and voice in the humanitarian and human rights sector.

After resigning from the DERC post in October 2016, Dr Kang served as Chief of the Transition Team of the Secretary-General-Elect. Then, as Senior Advisor on Policy to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, she spearheaded his initiative to realize gender parity in his appointments and facilitated discussion on restructuring the peace architecture in the Secretariat.

Dr Kang graduated from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and diplomacy. She received MA and PhD degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in the United States. Her doctorate work was in the field of international/intercultural communication.

Dr Kang is fluent in Korean and English and speaks basic-level French. She is married with two daughters and one son.