Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) Northeast Asia convened the sixth annual meeting of the Ulaanbaatar Process online over several dates in late November-early December. Civil society participants from throughout the region and from the United States gathered virtually at this unique moment, with its serious challenges not only for economic and public health reasons, but also for peace and security. Although the online format meant that fill inclusive participation by members from all parts of the region was not possible, this was a productive opportunity for members to reaffirm their ongoing priority – that peace for the Korean Peninsula and for Northeast Asia is urgent, and that civil society, governments and other actors must work together towards this goal.
Participants confirmed the unchanged importance of respecting prior agreements regarding the Korean Peninsula, and an upscaling of efforts to ensure their implementation. This includes the historic 2018 inter-Korean Panmunjom Declaration, as well as US-DPRK agreements. As a new United States administration prepares to take its place, participants emphasised the need for an ongoing bilateral commitment to fully and expeditiously implement the establishment of new US-DPRK relations; efforts to build a lasting peace regime on the Korean Peninsula; and the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Hope was expressed for support and cooperation both from the United States and from other regional governments to ensure that inter-Korean agreements are respected and exchange and cooperation can be implemented. An effective dialogue process is required so as to enable the agreements to contribute to strengthening regional peace, stability and cooperation; further, any negotiations should be through dialogue and cooperation, including through regional frameworks, rather than sanctions and pressure.
As a civil society dialogue mechanism for regional peace and stability, GPPAC Northeast Asia will continue to work through the Ulaanbaatar Process and other means to promote further dialogue, trust building and mutually beneficial cooperation in the region. We highlight the need for participation and leadership by women and youth, and recognition of the gendered impacts of the ongoing conflict. Participants call on the international community to support the efforts of Korean and regional civil society, and the full implementation of past inter-Korean and US-DPRK agreements including those of 2018. As we enter the new year of 2021, we recognise the ongoing challenges that the pandemic and various divisions it has brought about will pose to peacebuilding. We believe that GPPAC has an important role to create together innovative and effective ways to continue our work in such circumstances, and look forward to expanding cooperation with partners on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia and worldwide, in order to achieve a more sustainable, lasting peace for all.