Ms. Kyung-wha Kang 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 effectively steered a structural reform of the Ministry under the Organization-wide Innovation Plan to strengthen the diplomatic capacity, while promoting efficiency and inclusion in the policy-making process. During her tenure, she also actively participated in various multilateral discussions on universal human rights, including labour rights.
She 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 the post of Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights by then Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
In April 2013, Dr. Kang was appointed by then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the post of 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 Election. 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 the restructuring of the peace architecture in the Secretariat.