Catalyst interviewed Suzanne Bonfils to discuss her upcoming article “China and the North Korean Refugee Crisis: State Sovereignty and the Dangers of ‘Strategic Ambivalence’” in the Spring 2019 issue of Chrysalis. Her article addresses the strategic ambivalence of China towards North Korea, which has affected the North Korean refugee crisis greatly. If you are interested in her article, you can watch her thesis video, where she explains it at length.
Suzanne is currently pursuing an honours degree in political science with a minor in religion. Although her goals have since shifted, she originally wanted to work with refugees and therefore chose to complete a minor in religion in the hopes that studying faith would help her to better understand the refugee experience. Currently, her academic interests lie mostly in the field of Latin American politics.
In addition to her academic pursuits, Suzanne is very involved in extracurriculars. She volunteers on a weekly basis with Opportutoring, which offers English tutoring to refugees, and for the past academic year she has served as the Vice-President of Communications for McGill Students for Oxfam-Québec. Last summer, she had the opportunity to intern with Equitas in Montreal and she is currently interning is at the Comité des droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL). In addition, she is the recipient of a McCall MacBain International Fellowship which will lead her to spend the next academic year in Brazil.
Suzanne became interested by North Korea at a young age. As a young idealist, she struggled to understand why and how a sociopolitical regime that hurt so many was tolerated. The international community’s failure to intervene in a country which lets their population starve at alarming rates baffled her. Of course, now she knows that the international political climate makes it very difficult for other countries to intervene meaningfully, particularly since China has veto power on the United Nations Security Council. Taking these circumstances into consideration, Suzanne chose to focus her article on China’s critical role in limiting the influx of refugees from North Korea as opposed to her original idea of examining the worldwide repercussions of the crisis.
Suzanne’s article has been shortlisted for an award by the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS).
You can find Suzanne’s article here.