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The Third International Peace Conference:  From Ceasefire to Peace

Related document:  Presentation to the Peace Conference by Victor Hsu of Church World Service.

Bob Edgar  John McCullough 
Above, NCC's Bob Edgar (left) and CWS' John McCullough (right) participated in the Third International Peace Conference in Seoul, immediately after leading an ecumenical peace delegation to North Korea.


Closing Statement by Participants in the Korea Peace Forum,
Seoul , South Korea, November 17-18, 2003
 

As participants representing Buddhist, Won Buddhist, Chong Dokyo, Muslim and Christian traditions, concerned with a more peaceful and just world, we call attention to the profound political and humanitarian crisis affecting the Korean peninsula today. 

State of Crisis
 

Recent events demonstrate the urgency of engaging in dialogue to create peace in the region.  North Korea claims to have reprocessed spent fuel rods for weapons-grade uranium, and is extremely apprehensive about the Bush administration’s “preemptive strike” strategy, which it regards to be a hostile policy and a hindrance to improved inter-Korean reunification initiatives. Confrontational policies risk provoking North Korea’s rulers to escalate the nuclear crisis, to press ahead with the further development of its nuclear program, and to significantly increase the risk for millions of people on the Korean peninsula, and in the region

North Korea’s people remain at great risk of widespread famine and disease.  Medicine and medical equipment are in short supply. Fertilizers, seeds, farm equipment and improved animal husbandry are needed by farmers and farm cooperatives.  Additional energy resources, irrigation facilities, and a clean water supply system would also contribute greatly to the well-being and prosperity of the people. Despite gradual improvements in the operating conditions for the World Food Program, we are deeply concerned about the sharp decline in aid. During the late 90’s gains were made in nutrition and health, but recent cuts to food aid threaten mass stunting and wasting in children’s growth.  

Equally troubling to us are the plight of refugees in China, and human rights violations in North Korea.  Human dignity is sacred, and all rights and fundamental freedoms must be upheld in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

Negotiations toward Peaceful Settlement

We believe the two Koreas are the main actors in establishing peace on the peninsula. Building on the recent Six-Party Talks in Beijing, we believe future dialogue needs to address not only the North’s nuclear program but also regional security concerns, and economic and humanitarian aid. Given that a comprehensive and lasting peace requires international cooperation, we encourage the international community to actively support this process. It is our conviction that nonviolent means such as diplomacy, negotiations and other forms of engagement remain the best approach for finding durable solutions.  

Recommended Actions:

The Third International Peace Conference proposes the following plan of action: 

a)      We strongly urge an immediate additional contribution to the World Food Program to prevent further deterioration in the health of the North Korean population. We encourage the international community, and in particular the US, to respond generously to the United Nations $200 million Consolidated Appeal announced on November 15, 2003.   

b)      We recommend that China, Russia, Japan and the US provide a formal multi-state security guarantee for North and South Korea, which shall serve as an umbrella for the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula. 

c)      We call on North Korea, for its part, to respond by immediately halting its nuclear weapons research and development, which shall be verified by the IAEA.  North Korea should begin implementation of its agreement with the South to make the Korean peninsula nuclear-free.   

d)      We call on responsible actors, such as those represented in KEDO, to provide energy assistance in the spirit of the 1994 Framework Agreement. 

e)      We call on North Korea, South Korea and the US to begin substantial steps toward reduction of conventional arms in the peninsula, specifically a stepdown of engagement and military deployment at the Demilitarized Zone.   

f)        We urge the US and North Korea to sign a mutual non-aggression agreement; and further we urge that all parties to the Armistice Agreement move toward a comprehensive peace treaty formally ending the “state of war” that has existed since 1953.   

g)      We encourage North and South Korea to continue to develop the frameworks for normalization of relations and eventual reunification. 

h)      We call on Japan, mindful of its painful historic relationship with the Korean people, to provide compensation and financial leadership in the needed development in the North. 

i)        We urge participants in the Six-Party Talks to work on developing a cooperative security mechanism that benefits all of North East Asia.  Bilateral, multilateral and regional security structures should be established with a view to creating a positive political climate in which both North and South feel able to proceed constructively toward peace and the reduction of arms.

j)        We urge that the December 13, 1991 Inter-Korean Agreement for Non-Aggression, Reconciliation, Exchange and Cooperation be implemented in letter and spirit by both authorities.  There should be more opportunities for family reunions involving greater numbers of Koreans. Critical for the future of the Korean peninsula is affirmation and respect for the sovereignty of the Korean people.  Equally important is continued improvement in inter-Korean relationships and exchanges.

k)      We encourage increased trade, commerce and investment with North Korea, to promote interaction with the international community and provide a better foundation for political stability and economic sustainability in North East Asia. We urge the US government to lift the existing punitive economic sanctions and allow North Korea to pursue its economic development.

Pledge:

The many religious organizations participating in this Third International Peace Conference will continue to engage our membership in responding to the Korean people’s aspiration for peace and reunification.   We will encourage our governments and the authorities in the peninsula to take steps to help break down the walls of division between South and North Korea.  Since the famine in 1996, we have provided millions of dollars of humanitarian assistance to help solve the hunger crisis threatening millions of North Koreans; and we will continue this assistance. We will continue to support each other’s struggles through visits, common action, and religious practice such as prayer and meditation.  This precious interfaith network for peace possesses immense spiritual resources and values to undergird a global structure for peace and justice. 

The Third International Peace Conference invites the Korean Conference of Religions for Peace and the Korean Council of Religionists to call for a Six-Nation Multi-religious Peace Conference, to be held in Beijing contemporaneously with the next round of Six-Party Talks.  It is our deep wish that this will offer a forum for broad and flexible dialogue to support the intergovernmental talks. 

We, the participating organizations in this Third International Conference, covenant with one another to be a voice for non-violence, and wherever possible to take initiatives for peace and reconciliation. We encourage civil society to join us as we engage in dialogue with our governments to press ahead for a multilateral and diplomatic approach to the  Korea crisis, leading ultimately to the peaceful reunification of Korea.  We pledge to continue our work as peacemakers and advocates for the resolution of the current conflict through peaceful means.

-end-

Related documents: 

First Reports and Photos, Filed on U.S. Ecumenical Delegation's Exit from North Korea.
CWS Analyst Victor Hsu's Presentation to Peace Conference, with Photos of Delegation's Visit
The Ecumenical Delegation's Six-Point Call to Action on Korean Crisis.


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