On Tuesday September 27, women leaders of Women Cross DMZ and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) held a press conference to raise the issue of peace on the Korean Peninsula. Held at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York on the last day of the UN General Assembly, members of the two peace organizations presented a letter, addressed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
September 27, 2016 — As the end of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s term approaches, global women peacemakers urge him to leave a legacy of peace for the Korean Peninsula by using his power to initiate a peace process to replace the 63-year old Armistice Agreement that halted the 1950-53 Korean War with a binding peace accord.
In an open letter signed by over 100 prominent women from 38 countries including many that participated in the Korean War, women leaders urge Ban to definitively deliver on a commitment he made in 2007, “Beyond a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue with North Korea, we should aim to establish a peace mechanism, through transition from armistice to a permanent peace regimen.” The peacebuilding process must have significant representation of women, pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
“The Secretary-General has the opportunity to build on his legacy as the world’s most important peacemaker,” says Cora Weiss. “Mr. Ban can demonstrate that nuclear threats can be met with a diplomatic recipe of engagement, lifting sanctions, and promise of trade and aid, in exchange for North Korea giving up its nuclear ambition.”
“The only so-called communication now taking place among Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington is in the form of nuclear tests, B-1 bombers, and threats of surgical strikes,” says Kozue Akibayashi, WILPF International President. “This dangerous situation which threatens everyone in the region necessitates dialogue, especially the voices of women peacemakers.”
After claiming four million lives, the Korean War was halted on July 27, 1953 when military leaders from the United States, North Korea and China signed the Armistice Agreement and promised to return within three months to work out a peace deal. Suzy Kim, Rutgers University Professor, explains, “The dangerous brinkmanship we witness today, from nuclear weapons tests to military exercises, stems from the historic fact that a peace treaty was never signed.”
Women leaders call on Secretary-General Ban to take steps now to formally end the Korean War with a peace treaty, which would lead to greater security, not only in Korea, but also globally by countering the escalating militarization in the region and the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Below is the letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
Dear Secretary-General Ban:
We are women leaders from 38 countries, including many from nations that fought in the Korean War. We are from academia, business, civil society and the military, and represent a diversity of ethnicities, nationalities, religions, and political views. We are united by our belief that diplomacy is the only way to end the Korean War.
On July 27, 1953 leaders from the United States, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and China signed the Armistice Agreement to halt the Korean War. They promised to re-convene within three months to replace the ceasefire with a binding peace agreement. This never occurred and an entrenched state of war has ever since defined inter-Korean and U.S.-D.P.R.K. relations. This war must end.
We urge you as the leader of the UN, which was established “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” to fulfill a promise you made in a 2007 speech where you stated, ”Beyond a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue with North Korea, we should aim to establish a peace mechanism, through transition from armistice to a permanent peace regimen.”
Korea is the only nation to remain divided as a result of WWII. For three generations, millions of families have been separated by the world’s most militarized border. We urge you to lead the process of bringing formal closure to the longest standing war before you leave your post in the United Nations.
During your remaining time as Secretary-General, we urge you to:
- Initiate a peace process, together with the UN Security Council President, to replace the 1953 Armistice Agreement with a binding peace treaty to end the Korean War.
- Aim to conclude this peace process by 2018, the 70th anniversary of Korea’s division into two separate states.
- Ensure that women are significantly represented in the peace process in accordance with the spirit of UNSCR 1325.
On both sides of the De-Militarized Zone, the absence of a binding peace accord fuels fear, violations of human rights, and economic deprivation caused by diverting resources in preparation for war. Since 1950 Korea has been threatened with nuclear weapons (first by the United States and now also by North Korea), North Korean missile tests, and U.S.-South Korean military exercises. Furthermore, the recent decision to install the U.S. THAAD missile defense system in South Korea is viewed by countries in the region as a highly provocative and potentially destabilizing move.
Peace is the most powerful deterrent of all. As the Secretary-General of the UN with the mandate to maintain international peace and security, we urge you to take steps now to help formally end the Korean War with a peace treaty. Doing so would lead to greater peace and security in the world by countering the escalating militarization in the region and the proliferation of nuclear weapons worldwide.
The global community can no longer ignore the tragedy suffered by the Korean people. We look to you to leave behind a legacy of diplomacy for peace in Korea, Northeast Asia and our world, and to continue your active engagement for peace in Korea in your private capacity. We would appreciate acknowledgment of your receipt of this letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See below for original letter with full list of all organizations and individuals who signed onto the letter.
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (www.wilpf.org)
The oldest women’s peace organization, WILPF is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) with National Sections covering every continent, an International Secretariat based in Geneva, and a New York office focused on the work of the United Nations (UN). Since our establishment in 1915, we have brought together women from around the world who are united in working for peace by non-violent means and promoting political, economic and social justice for all. Our approach is always non-violent, and we use existing international legal and political frameworks to achieve fundamental change in the way states conceptualize and address issues of gender, militarism, peace and security. Our strength lies in our ability to link the international and local levels. We are very proud to be one of the first organizations to gain consultative status with the United Nations, and the only women’s anti-war organization so recognized.
Women Cross DMZ (www.womencrossdmz.org)
Women Cross DMZ is a non-governmental organization led by women working globally for peace in Korea. In May 2015, on the 70th anniversary of the division of Korea, Women Cross DMZ led a historic women’s peace walk across the De-Militarized Zone from North to South Korea to draw global attention to the urgent need to end the Korean War with a peace treaty, reunite divided families, and ensure women’s leadership in peacebuilding. Representing 15 countries, our 30- member international delegation walked with 10,000 Korean women on both sides of the DMZ. Our mission is to: 1.) Promote women’s leadership in the peacebuilding process in Korea; 2.) Raise awareness about the urgent need for peace in Korea; and 3.) Expand and deepen relationships with women leaders and organizations in South Korea, North Korea, and around the world.
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