[Statement] We cannot possibly go back to times of competition and hostility.
- 2020.01.07 (14:59:25)
We cannot possibly go back to times of competition and hostility
At the beginning of 2020, the 70th new year since the outbreak of the Korean War, the situation of the Korean peninsula stays gloomy. The DPRK-U.S negotiations have been stuck at a deadlock for the past year without a seemingly possible breakthrough. In the meanwhile, DPRK that has recently announced “a new path” have resolved a “frontal breakthrough” in the latest Workers’ Party Central Committee plenum and emphasized economic self-help strategies and development of new strategic weapons.
Two years have barely passed since 2018, when hope that this age of hostility and contention would end, was plated. As we all know, the road to peace establishment in the Korean peninsula should be a trust-building process through perpetual conversations and patience. We are now facing the uneasy obstacles along the road, but we cannot possibly abandon patience for a return for antagonism. Today, the civil society organizations have gathered here in a united wish to never go back to the time before the Panmunjom Inter-Korean Summit in any circumstances, when dangers of war were imminent. We assert that conversations between DPRK-U.S. and South-North should reconvene as soon as possible, and difficultly reached agreements between them should be fulfilled, and we hereby suggest to governments of ROK, DPRK, and the U.S.
DPRK and the U.S. should both work to form adequate preconditions to resume dialogue.
DPRK and the U.S. have not been able to progress meaningful discussions, neither after last year’s Hanoi Summit nor after the meeting at Panmunjom in June 2019. During Singapore, the two parties have declared that a mutual trust-building will expedite denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, but such resolutions have not been abided by. Above all, we pinpoint the fact that the U.S. has not taken any measures to show their trust compared to DPRK’s set of actions including a freeze of nuclear and missile experiment conducts. This is also a reason why there have been no points of contact – none among packaged, phased, or concurrent settlements – between the two. We are strongly against a practical muddling-through of the U.S. by insisting “denuclearization first”, and North’s missile tests conduct that creates militaristic tensions. Both the U.S. and DPRK should do their best to establish conditions that will continue the dialogue, and clarify the principles of denuclearization and peace regime establishment. We ask for the U.S.’s political, militaristic, economic trust-building mechanisms that will allow for greater agreements, and also for DPRK to halt from taking further militaristic actions.
The UN and the U.S. should lift the sanctions against the DPRK that are related to humanitarian aid at least.
The United Nations and the U.S. have constantly maintained or built up the levels of economic sanctions against DPRK since it was first enacted. The U.S. is standing firm on the position that without prior denuclearization of DPRK, Washington cannot lift the sanctions. It has been testified that the economic sanctions have been aggravating the situation for especially the underprivileged. Now that the sanctions are outpacing their original purpose to act as a medium of problem-solving, the trust-building process between DPRK and the U.S. is even more injured. Moreover, these sanctions are keeping inter-peninsula cooperation. We hope that the unsuccessful history of insisting ‘denuclearization first, sanction lift next’ kind of solution without any fruit will not repeat itself. At the minimum, the sanctions that accelerate the humanitarian crisis should be lifted. We’d like to appeal to the UN Security Council for proactive discussions about the resolution of China and Russia partially lifting economic sanctions, which could lead to the negotiation table.
Communication and militaristic actions cannot coexist.
We remember the fact that the postponement of ROK-U.S. joint military exercise worked as a driving force for the peace process on the Korean peninsula. Raising militaristic threats and confrontations are no good for the negotiation. We hereby urge Seoul and Washington to pause another joint exercise planned in March. This decision will ignite the dying ember of negotiation between the DPRK and the U.S.
We urge for a resolute action for the ROK government to carry out the agreements.
When DPRK-U.S. negotiations have been stopped, South-North relations also chilled down. Including the exchanges and cooperation projects, the parts the two sides have agreed on has not been able to take a single step due to maintained economic sanctions of the UN and the U.S. This is a very lamentable situation. Operation of Gaeseong Industrial Complex, Mount Geumgang tours, humanitarian cooperation for solving separated families’ problems, road and railway connection projects should not be postponed any longer. This includes the formation of the Joint South-North Military Committee and other parts of the agreements that pertain to military issues. The ROK government should proactively ask for broad sanctions lift and exercise some autonomy in solving the problem. Though it will not be easy, the government should lead to provide room for problem solving and engine to change the current situation.
We will take up the civic society’s responsibility to cease the war and to make peace.
This is the 70th year since the Korean War. It is time to put an end to contentions and hatred as results of the divide and cease-fire that have been regenerating itself. The Korean civil society is the agent directly involved that will form the peace on this peninsula. We hold the responsibility to stimulate dialogue for permanent peace regime and denuclearization to continue. We will gather desperate voices for peace and deliver them not only to the DPRK and the U.S. but to the whole international community. We will ask the international community to be with us on our peace-forwarding actions. We will strive to mark 2020 a year to be one that will halt the war and open the way to a new age of peace.
7 January 2020
Civil Society Organization Network in Korea - Civil Peace Forum
Korean Conference of Religions for Peace
Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation
Korea NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea
The Southern Committee on June 15 Joint Declaration
번역 : 윤혜원 자원활동가 / Translation : Hyewon Yoon
감수 : 참여연대 평화군축센터 / Proofreading : PSPD