News Archive
Sep 1, 2017 - The 3rd Ulaanbaatar Process Meeting: Diverse Civil Society Voices for Peace and Dialogue
The Ulaanbaatar Process, a civil society-led dialogue for peace and stability in Northeast Asia, was launched by the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) in Ulaanbaatar in June, 2015. A worldwide alliance of civil society organizations structured around 15 regional networks, GPPAC convenes and facilitates the Ulaanbaatar Process, together with the network's Ulaanbaatar Focal Point, Mongolian NGO Blue Banner.

The overall objective of the annual Ulaanbaatar Process meetings is to support the creation of conditions of peace and stability in Northeast Asia through the promotion of greater civil society dialogue and interaction. The third Ulaanbaatar Process meeting was held on August 29-30, 2017. It provided an opportunity for sincere and open civil society dialogue on the current peace and security situation in Northeast Asia, and particularly the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Civil society perspectives regarding the importance of dialogue and peaceful resolution of the current situation were emphasized by participants from throughout the region including China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Japan, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States.

At this meeting, the publication Reflections on Peace and Security in Northeast Asia - Perspectives from the Ulaanbaatar Process was also launched. This collection of essays captures the diverse opinions, concerns, tensions and contradictions of a region in turmoil at the time of the 3rd Ulaanbaatar Process Meeting. Its chapters focus on Northeast Asian security and a vision for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone; Korean Peninsula security issues and their impact on regional stability; and civil society dialogue and multi-track diplomacy in peacebuilding in Northeast Asia. The styles, opinions and visions contained in this publication are as diverse as the Northeast Asian region itself and the fact that they have been offered willingly, and in good faith, is a modest yet significant testament to the success of the ongoing Ulaanbaatar Process experiment, and a tangible outcome thereof.

The Geopolitical Context and Regional Issues of Concern, August 2017

Since the last Ulaanbaatar Process meeting in November 2016, new administrations have begun in both the Republic of Korea and the United States. The meeting took place amidst what could be considered an ongoing crisis situation, with the conduct of US-ROK joint military exercises, the DPRK ballistic missile launch of August 29, and the expected imminent deployment of four remaining units of the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system in the ROK - all issues discussed by participants during the meeting.

At the same time, the meeting was held to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Mongolia's declaration of its territory as a single-state nuclear-weapon-free-zone, an important contribution to the peace and stability of the Northeast Asian region. Participants congratulated Mongolia on its important leadership in this regard, and in particular the host NGO Blue Banner for their role in promoting Mongolia's nuclear-weapon-free status throughout the region and globally.

Furthermore, the meeting took place in the wake of the July 7 adoption at the United Nations by a large majority of states of a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. Participants recognized this as a significant and positive milestone on the path towards a world free of nuclear weapons, and discussed the implications of this treaty for peace and steps towards denuclearization in Northeast Asia.

Discussion was also held in regards to the state and role of civil society in Northeast Asia and challenges for civil society interaction in the region; perspectives on defining security and the importance of human security; the role of the media and how it at times can serve to exacerbate tensions; the need for further peace education in the region; and the potential for cooperation around issues of climate change mitigation, humanitarian aid and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Common crosscutting threads were also the importance of women and youth in efforts for peace and stability in the region.

Perspectives on Common Ground

All participants agreed on the necessity to prioritize dialogue and engagement in order to deescalate tensions in the region, rather than resort to military action and further provocations. The nuclear crisis and military tension poses a grave threat to people living in this region, and should be resolved through peaceful means. It is for this reason that dialogue on all levels is crucial.

Participants also recommended that all stakeholders should make sincere efforts to reduce mutual threats of both nuclear and conventional warfare, and instead build mutual trust. No country should threaten another country with nuclear weapons, a situation which can lead to a further cycle of harsh responses and an exacerbation of the serious situation in the region.

An emphasis was placed on the need for the United States, ROK and Japan - which all have significant military capacity and resources - to take the first step towards preemptive action for peace, which could include a cessation or reduction of military exercises. The need for a peace regime to replace the current Armistice regime, which could contribute to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the creation of a world free from nuclear weapons, was also discussed.

Next Steps

Building upon the trust and commitment developed in the past years, participants agreed on the utmost importance of sustaining this civil society process, based on principles of inclusivity, respect, collaboration and openness. Participants discussed mechanisms to support frequent communication amongst members even outside of regular meetings, and steps to share perspectives and outcomes from the Ulaanbaatar Process with other interested stakeholders and parties. This will include dissemination both in hard copy and online of the newly launched joint publication. Discussion was also held regarding plans for the 2018 meeting.

Documents for download
GPPAC Ulaanbaatar Process 2017 Summary Document