Thursday, June 28, 2018

A Korean-War Peace Treaty: An Essential Framework for Asian Security



The summit meeting in Singapore on 12 June of President Donald Trump of the United States and Kim Jong-un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was a highly significant meeting, facilitated by a good number of diplomatic efforts, in particular that of Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea as well as diplomats from the People’s Republic of China.   There were also active non-governmental initiatives from groups in South Korea, the USA and Japan to encourage such a summit to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The meeting has generated an unprecedented opportunity for new ways of thinking and practice for resolving current security and economic issues between the two Korean States and China, Russia, Japan, and the USA as concerned outside powers.
The Summit produced a framework agreement for the ultimate denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula – thus the end of the nuclear weapon capacity of North Korea and the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from South Korea.  In the meantime, there would be a freeze on North Korean nuclear-weapon activity and a suspension of US-South Korean military exercises which the North Korean government has always considered “provocative” and as a rehearsal of an attack.  In addition, there would be other confidence-building measures.  A non-aggression pact or a strong non-aggression statement by the US has been mentioned.  Other tension-reducing measures would be an increase of separated-family meetings, cultural exchanges, and perhaps a revival of joint North-South Korean economic undertakings.

Thus, there has been a definite change in the “atmosphere” from the earlier saber-rattling. An important step to create a framework or security and cooperation would be the transformation of the 1953 Armistice into a formal Korean-war Peace Treaty.  The 27 July 1953 Armistice was signed by the UN Command Delegation and by Delegations of the Korean People’s Army and the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army.

In 2013, the Association of World Citizens had proposed in a message to then United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that there be a UN-sponsored Korean Peace Settlement Conference now that all States which participated in the 1950-1953 Korean War were members of the United Nations.  July 2013 was the 60th anniversary of the 1953 Armistice and thus could have taken on a symbolic significance.

The time was not yet “ripe” in 2013.  Today, the political atmosphere may be more auspicious than in 2013. a,d there is a need to build on the momentum. A peace treaty rather than the armistice could create a strong framework for cooperation.  There has not been a U.N.-led peace treaty before.  Those of World War II were organized only among the States which had participated, each under its own flag.  The 1950-1953 Korean War was the only armed conflicts among States fighting under a U.N. flag.

It is important that the voices of civil society be heard in this Peace Treaty process and that we also present a longer-range vision of Asian security and confidence-building measures.


Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens