The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) expresses our great concern at recent heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula. As a global network of civil society peacebuilding organisations, GPPAC places utmost importance on the prevention of armed conflict, and ensuring the human security of communities.
We were shocked to watch the demolition by the DPRK of the Inter-Korean Liaison Office in Kaesong on June 16, 2020. This office, established in 2018 following the Panmunjeom Summit, allowed officials from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to directly communicate regularly for the first time since the Korean War. As such, it was a symbol of concrete steps towards reconciliation and a peaceful and prosperous shared future for Korea. Taking place just one day after the 20th anniversary of the historic June 15 Inter-Korean Declaration, this development reminds us both of the enormous efforts of the Korean people for peace over the past decades, but also of the fact that much more must yet be done.
GPPAC’s Northeast Asia network has for five years been leading a civil-society dialogue known as the Ulaanbaatar Process, bringing together representatives from both the DPRK and the ROK as well as other countries in the region and the United States to to discuss various perspectives towards peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. As government level relations remain at a standstill, such civil society initiatives and communications are all the more important.
Further, having organised regional civil society meetings at the joint tourism zone at Mt Kumgang, GPPAC keenly understands the significance of such inter-Korean joint projects as important symbols for inter-Korean cooperation and peace.
This increase in tensions highlights the urgent situation on the Korean Peninsula, and the need for the international community to support the Korean people in their efforts for peace and reconciliation. The international community must also recognise the need for active support and encouragement of inter-Korean cooperative measures as an important factor to promote confidence and mutually beneficial cooperation on the Korean Peninsula. Over the past two years since the Panmunjeom Summit, talks have been suspended, sanctions have been renewed, military exercises and missile tests have continued, and not enough has been done to ensure that progress is made both in promoting peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and in implementing the agreements arrived at the Panmunjeom Summit and other summit meetings.
GPPAC calls for all parties to refrain from taking any action which will worsen the situation, including hostile remarks and military action.
The international community must make utmost efforts to ensure that previous joint agreements can be honoured and implemented, including the Kaesong Industrial Complex, Mount Kumgang, rail and road links and steps toward disarmament.
The two Koreas must be empowered to pursue peace, reconciliation and cooperation on their own terms.
GPPAC pledges to continue to work closely with our members in Northeast Asia, including on both sides of the DMZ, to realise a sustainable and peaceful future for the Peninsula and for the region. 2020 marks 70 years since the beginning of Korean War. 70 years is enough – we must end the Korean War now.