WILPF Statement for International Day of Peace 2021

Read the statement in French, Spanish, or Arabic

On this International Day of Peace, and in the face of our current chaos, we must not forget to address the war that the international community has long abandoned – a war that could re-ignite at any time, and one that feminist peace activists have been working to reconcile for over seven decades: The Korean War.

Over 70 years after the Korean War first ignited, a formal peace agreement has yet to be reached – meaning the war that wreaked havoc on the Koreas, with four million casualties and 10 million families separated, continues to this day. 

This International Day of Peace, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom stands in solidarity with generations of activists and advocates to demand an official end to the Korean War – and the start of a new era of peace in the Korean Peninsula. 

We are united in this call to action with Korea Peace Now! Women Mobilizing to End the War, Women Cross DMZ, the Korea Peace Appeal, and the countless other feminists,  women-led and civil society campaigns that have been organising across the world in support of a peaceful final conclusion to the Korean War. 


The “three-year” war that never ended

The Korean War began just five years after the country was liberated from Japanese colonial rule at the end of the Second World War. When negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union failed to establish a single government, Korea was divided into two separate states – the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the south and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the north. 

The division precipitated the three-year-long Korean War (1950–1953), which saw the US and 15 other countries send combat forces to ROK to repel the north, while China sent its volunteer army to support DPRK. 

Within three years, millions of people had been killed, harmed, or displaced, and the two states had been ravaged by widespread destruction. Today, many families remain separated – unable to cross the border and traumatised by generations of loss. 

Although an armistice agreement was signed by DPRK and the US in 1953, bringing an end to active fighting, the war itself has never been resolved – and can re-escalate at any time. 


Deadlocked on the path to peace

The adoption of several resolutions by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) intended to influence DPRK’s abandonment of its nuclear program have failed to achieve their goals, impeded by hostile relations that have remained high ever since the armistice agreement was first signed. Today, the Korean Peninsula continues to be affected by militarisation, the ongoing arms race, and the constant threat of nuclear action.

Yet signs of progress have been emerging. 

In recent years, DPRK announced a decision to stop all nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests and shut down its nuclear test site as a confidence-building measure. The ROK and DPRK militaries also signed a comprehensive military agreement to completely cease all hostile acts against one another, as well as measures to transform the Demilitarized Zone into a peace zone. 

But because a formal peace agreement has not been established, tensions remain vulnerable to political turmoil. In June 2020, for example, DPRK destroyed the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong after ROK authorities failed to prevent anti-DPRK messages from being sent across the border – demonstrating the ongoing challenges of inter-Korean reconciliation without a guiding framework. 

Today, negotiations between DPRK and the US remain deadlocked, while US and UN sanctions, as well as US–ROK combined military exercises, continue to exacerbate the situation. Moreover, the Biden administration is continuing to uphold the previous administration’s policy of banning all US citizens from travelling to DPRK – hindering the reunion of separated families and preventing humanitarian assistance from reaching the most vulnerable people in DPRK.


WILPF demands action for a future of peace in the Koreas 

The Koreas – like all nations – have the right to determine their own future. Periods of progress over the past several years towards improved inter-Korean relations have sent a powerful message about the two states’ shared desire for a peaceful path forward.

But the war that was supported and perpetuated by the international community requires action from the international community in order to conclude. 

Together with feminist peace activists around the world, WILPF demands that a series of tangible actions be immediately undertaken to officially end the Korean War and put the Koreas on a path to self-determined peace. 

We demand: 

  • The US, ROK, and DPRK must immediately conclude a peace agreement in any form that reflects their mutual agreement to bring a formal end to the Korean War. This will allow the Koreas to pursue reconciliation on their own terms, break the arms race, and shift resources to human security and sustainable development.
  • All countries that actively participated in the Korean War bear a responsibility to advocate for a peace agreement and must actively support ending the unresolved seven-decade-long Korean War.
  • The international community should lift sanctions on DPRK that impede inter-Korean cooperation.
  • DPRK, ROK, the US, Russia, China and all other nuclear-armed states must sign and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to bring the world closer to a future free from the threat of nuclear warfare.
  • Women must be closely involved in peace talks and the process of moving toward a peace agreement, drawing on generations of activism and recognising the unique gendered impacts of the unresolved war.


For individuals and civil society organisations: How you can help 

If you are an individual or representative of a civil society organisation interested in helping to bring a formal end to the Korean War, we recommend the following actions: 

  • Learn about the issue and demand action (see resources below).
  • Sign and promote the Korea Peace Appeal.
  • Sign the LIFT (Let Individuals Travel Freely) petition calling on the US to once again allow US citizens to travel to DPRK.
  • Support US grassroots advocacy for the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act.
  • Mobilise your community to engage in actions like letter-writing campaigns, publishing op-eds, hosting webinars, etc. 


Learn more 

To learn more about the Korean War and women-led efforts to promote peace in the Korean Peninsula, please visit the following resources: 

Report: Path to Peace: The Case for a Peace Agreement to End the Korean War 

Blog: Changing Narratives, Building Peace 

Blog: Time to End the Seven-Decade-Long Korean War

Blog: #KoreaPeaceNow!: Join Our New Campaign for Peace in the Korean Peninsula

Blog: Women Cross DMZ Congratulate North and South Korean Peace Efforts

Blog: WILPF President Kozue Akibayashi on Crossing the DMZ with Other Women Peacemakers

Join us in demanding an end to the Korean War by sharing this message with your friends, family, and on social media using the hashtag #InternationalDayOfPeace. We also created a toolkit to help you:

  • Share and promote the statement through email, social media, and any other communication channels available to you.
  • Position WILPF as a global leader in the feminist peace movement.
  • Engage people and communities with the work of WILPF and WILPF Sections around the world.

You can find the toolkit here – it is available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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