Statements Archive
Jun 24, 2010 - GPPAC Northeast Asia Statement for a Peaceful Solution to the Cheonan Incident in Support of Korean Civil Society

The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) in Northeast Asia1 is shocked at the incident of sinking of the South Korean Cheonan warship on March 26, 2010 and expresses its condolences to all casualties and their families. It is also gravely concerned by the current developments leading to increased political and military tensions in the region. We call for a peaceful solution. We encourage all parties concerned to make further efforts for a full investigation and for dialogue, thoroughly considering all aspects of the incident in a transparent process engaging civil society. We urge all parties not to commit any acts that could escalate tensions, which would be counter-productive for this purpose.

Many civil society organisations and individuals have provided valuable input into this process, including within the Republic of Korea (ROK) and internationally. Notably, the South Korean NGO People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) submitted a report to the United Nations Security Council on June 11, 2010, presenting rational questions over the report by the Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group (JIG), comprised of experts from ROK agencies joined by the US, Australia, UK and Sweden, as announced on May 20, 2010.2 Questions raised by different groups are related particularly to technical aspects of the explosion, as well as the transparency and timing of the JIG report.

In such unstable circumstances, civil society can play an important role in promoting constructive dialogue and assisting a thorough investigation and peaceful resolution of the issue. However, we are concerned that the ROK Government is not only reluctant to pay sufficient respect to such civil society efforts, but is even acting to obstruct such contributions. We urge the Government to shift this policy, in hopes that joint efforts by civil society, governments and the United Nations be made to overcome remnant Cold War issues, build mutual confidence, and promote peace and disarmament for the Northeast Asian region. We thereby make the following appeals:

  1. More thorough investigations both by the ROK Government and internationally are needed. They should carefully examine the unanswered questions pointed out by Chinese and Russian reviews, and by academic and civil society analyses, including issues relating to technical aspects of the explosion. Furthermore, information on the findings and processes of the investigation should be made fully available to the public. This would be of great importance in reaching a broad international consensus on the understanding of the incident.

  2. All parties must commit to a peaceful resolution through dialogue. The United Nations played an important role in the similar case regarding the grounding of a submarine of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 1996.3 We reiterate the principle that was affirmed in this 1996 case, that both Koreas and all other parties concerned should settle disputes by peaceful means through dialogue, so that peace and security on the Korean Peninsula will be strengthened. The UN is encouraged to again play a similar constructive facilitating role. To this end, we stress in particular the responsibility of the DPRK to cooperate with the UN for clarification and accountability. The ROK Government should withdraw its series of military measures and economic sanctions against the DPRK, which in turn should refrain from provocations and hostile language.

  3. Civil society's input and engagement are crucial to a peaceful resolution. Many civil society groups in the ROK have issued reports and recommendations regarding the situation. Amongst these was PSPD, which sent a report to the UN Security Council on June 11, 2010. In their report, PSPD called on the UNSC to make a fair and rational decision by carefully considering all of the grounds and evidences. All these contributions should be fully paid respect to and carefully considered.

  4. The ROK Government is urged to shift its policy - from confrontation to cooperation with civil society. We are seriously concerned that ROK Government does not sufficiently respect civil society's contribution, including that of PSPD, but instead accuses and even threatens them with prosecution. We are troubled to see that those accusations and threats are being made in concert with the mass media, along with an outdated Cold-War discourse of ?defaming the country? and ?benefiting the enemy? - as constituting a violation of the National Security Law. Freedom of expression must be fully observed.

    1. GPPAC is a global civil society-led network which seeks to build an international consensus on peacebuilding and the prevention of violent conflict, and has been active in Northeast Asia since 2003. www.gppac.net
    2. See PSPD's Stance on the Final Investigation Report on the Cheonan http://blog.peoplepower21.org/English/20903
    3. See UN Press Release SC/6279 and UNSC Presidential Statement S/PRST/1996/42, October 15, 1996

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June 24, 2010
Initial Signatories (GPPAC Focal Points and affiliates, in alphabetical order):

CHO Younghee, Women Making Peace, Seoul

Vadim GAPONENKO, Maritime State University, Vladivostok

HUANG Haoming, China Association for NGO Cooperation, Beijing

HSU Szu-chien, Institute of Political Science, Academia Sinica, Taipei

Meri JOYCE, GPPAC Northeast Asia Regional Liaison Officer, Tokyo

JUNG Gyung-Lan, Women Making Peace, Seoul

KAWASAKI Akira, Peace Boat, Tokyo

KIMIJIMA Akihiko, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto

LEE Jae Young, Korea Anabaptist Center/Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute, Seoul

LEE Narae, Peace Boat US, New York

Dennis LIN, Soochow University, Taipei

Kathy R. MATSUI, HAP Global Campaign for Peace Education, Tokyo

MYAGMAR Dovchin, Blue Banner, Ulaanbaatar

NIU Qiang, Chinese People's Association for Peace and Disarmament, Beijing

SASAMOTO Jun, Japan International Lawyers Solidarity Association (JALISA), Tokyo

SEO Jung Ki, Korea Anabaptist Center/Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute, Seoul

SHEN Dingli, Fudan University, Shanghai

YOSHIOKA Tatsuya, GPPAC Northeast Asia Regional Initiator / Peace Boat, Tokyo

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Endorsers (in alphabetical order):

PARK Yeon Seo, Korea Anabaptist Center/Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute, Seoul

Karen SPICHER, Korea Anabaptist Center/Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute, Seoul