Instability has characterised the Korean peninsula for the past 60 years. Enough is enough. Six decades have passed since the armistice of the Korean War and yet the level of military tension is higher than ever.

WILPF, as an anti-war and pro-peace organisation, cannot tolerate the military actions and show of forces by North Korea on the one side and by the US and South Korea on the other. This is why, we are endorsing the following International Peace Declaration.

We believe it is time to end the Korean War once and for all in order to open a new era of dialogue, cooperation and peace.

International Peace Declaration

60 years after the signing of the 1953 armistice agreement that temporarily halted the Korean war, the Korean War still continues.  Now, in 2013, the Korean Peninsula is suffering its highest levels of military tension. After the 6 party talks broke down in 2008 and amidst stalled North Korea-US direct talks, North Korea, in strong opposition to UN sanctions against its launching of a satellite, announced its “rejection of denuclearization talks,” the “nullification of the cease-fire,” and – after the US introduced a nuclear submarine to its annual military show of force – conducted its 3rd nuclear test. The US mentioned the possibility of pre-emptive attack against North Korea and flew nuclear strategic B-2, B-52, F-22 fighters that engaged in live bombing exercises. North Korea raising the possibility of a US pre-emptive attack by the US declared that in the event of a US attack, North Korea would attack the continental US. Amidst nuclear confrontation, the armistice agreement in the Korean Peninsula was annulled and all lines of communication were cut. The Korean Peninsula remains in a situation where no agreements or mechanisms remain to prevent a military collision in the Korean Peninsula.

As the preamble to the 1953 armistice states the armistice was signed in order to stop “the Korean conflict, with its great toil of suffering and bloodshed on both sides, and…insure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peace settlement is achieved.” However, in June 6, 1957 in the 75th regular session of the military armistice commission, the United Nations Command formally announced its abrogation of provision 13.d, which had prevented the introduction of new weapons into the Korean Peninsula from outside, and since then the US Forces in Korea has nuclearly armed itself. The abrogation of provision 13.d along with the introduction of new weapons into the Korean Peninsula effectively undermined and went counter to the promise of the “peace settlement” contained within the armistice. Since then, the cease fire agreement has been continuously weakened. As the UN Command (led by the US) unilaterally destroyed a provision of the agreement and further weakened it, the military armistice commission that would “monitor the implementation of the cease fire agreement” and “deal with any violations of the cease fire” as well as the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission could not carry out their roles of monitoring the cease fire.

However, despite its various limitations, the cease fire still remains the only agreement able to prevent a military clash in the Korean Peninsula. Amidst constant armed clashes between North Korea on the one side and US and South Korea on the other, the annulment of the cease fire and the North-South Korea non-aggression pact means that we are stuck in a state of war without the means to eliminate the threat of full scale war. Because communication lines across the military demarcation line have been cut off, it is impossible to prevent a simple accident or an unintentional conflict during a show of force from becoming a full-scale war. Currently, a single shot in the zone around the military demarcation line can shape the whole future of people in the Korean Peninsula.

Tensions in the Korean Peninsula feed policies of military hegemony in Northeast Asia. During the past 60 years, tensions in the Korean Peninsula have been used as a justification for US policies of military hegemony and military strength build-up in Northeast Asia and the intensification of the Northeast Asian countries’ military stance. After the Cold War, even with the establishment of diplomatic relations with Northeast Asian countries China and Russia, the US and South Korea, rather than focusing on establishing diplomatic relations and normalization of relations with North Korea, have chosen to place the “nuclear issue” at the forefront using it as a pretext to increase isolation of and pressure against North Korea. However, rather than subduing North Korea, the economic sanctions and military pressure have only intensified conflict between North Korea and the US and have driven North Korea to develop its nuclear and missile capabilities. Furthermore, with the pretext of a North Korean threat, the US’s construction of a Northeast Asia missile defense system and strengthening of US troops stationed in the area has clearly exacerbated military conflict in the region.

During that time, for more than half a century, the Korean people and anti-war, pro-peace forces around the world have been calling for the de-escalation of the state of war; the establishment of a stable peace regime; the dismantlement of a new Cold War order in Northeast Asia, which has kept the Korean Peninsula divided; and the establishment of a new era based on a peace treaty. Yet, not only have peace talks not even started, but military tensions in the Korean Peninsula are intensifying every day. Military tensions need to be resolved and a full and permanent peace be established with a peace treaty.

Ballistic Missile

“Now with both sides armed with nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles, and thus not only the Korean Peninsula but also the US and Japan as possible targets, the potential casualties far exceed the imagination.” NASA Photo

In 1994, the US Department of Defense, after estimating that an outbreak of war would result in 1.5 million casualties within the first 24 hours in the capital city alone, and 6 million casualties within the first week, gave up its plans to bomb North Korea. Now with both sides armed with nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles, and thus not only the Korean Peninsula but also the US and Japan as possible targets, the potential casualties far exceed the imagination. Some conservative media and politicians in South Korea and the US instigate war saying that “we need to teach North Korea a lesson.” Yet, we cannot risk our future on such reckless incitement that could lead to countless casualties. The path for peace in the Korean Peninsula must involve the end to policies of military hegemony, the immediate start of negotiations for a peace treaty, and the normalization of relations.

The US government must give up its failed North Korea sanctions and its persistent policies of pressuring North Korea. The party that has refused talks so far must be the one to immediately initiate negotiations. It must also stop all of its military show of forces, the US-South Korea War Exercises, and rather than sanctions against North Korea, it must immediately start negotiations to conclude a peace treaty.

North Korea must immediately stop any military actions, and must actively respond to the negotiations related to a peace agreement.

South Korea’s role is especially important. As half of the Korean Peninsula, it must do everything within its power to prevent a collision. The Park administration must actively create a channel for dialogue by dispatching an envoy to North Korea and it must improve inter-Korean relations by enacting the South-North Joint Declarations.

At the time of the cease fire agreement talks, both sides agreed that within three months they would convene a peace summit for a peaceful resolution. Yet, 60 years later the negotiations to end the Korean War have not even begun. The Korean Peninsula remains the only divided nation in the world and the world’s region of tension.

We cannot continue with the instability of the past 60 years of the cease fire. Now is the time to end the Korean War once and for all and open a new era of peace and cooperation.

  • Peace negotiations between North Korea and the US must start at once and a Peace Agreement signed to realize full and complete peace in the Korean Peninsula.
  • All relevant countries must stop military exercises and shows of force that damage Northeast Asia’s Peace and Cooperation and must lead efforts to establish a peace and cooperation regime.
  • South and North Korea must fully implement the agreed upon and widely supported by international society South-North Korea Joint Declaration!”