Featured Image: Korean Peace Memorial By John Murphy, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
27 July marked the anniversary of the 1953 Armistice ending the fighting in Korea. A peace treaty was to follow, but such a formal peace agreement has never been signed. Since 1953; there have been ups and downs of the degree of tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Currently, tensions are toward the high end of the scale.
On 14 March 2013; the Association of World Citizens had sent a message to the then United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; urging a U.N.-sponsored Korean Peace Settlement Conference; now that all the States which had participated in the 1950-1953 Korean War were members of the United Nations. The 60th anniversary of the 1953 Armistice would be an appropriate occasion.
Such a Korean Peace Settlement Conference could build a framework for a broader, comprehensive approach to Northeast Asian security. The Association of World Citizens stressed the need for strong diplomatic measures by concerned States such as China, Russia, the U.S.A. and Japan. The World Citizens highlighted that in the past, there had been a series of dangerous but ultimately resolvable crisis concerning the two Korean States. However; there are always dangers of miscalculations and unnecessary escalation of threats.
Ban ki-moon, 5 February 2016. By Chatham House, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
Test The Waters.
The 60th anniversary went by without a Peace Conference. Today, we are still at about the same point of trying to develop confidence-building measures between the two Korean States. Small steps that do not overly worry the U.S.A. and China who watch events closely are needed. It is unlikely that any progress will be made in the foreseeable future concerning demilitarization of the Korean Peninsula or unification. Small steps are probably the order of the day. The Association of World Citizens has proposed increased family contacts, cultural exchanges, and increased food aid to the Democratic People’s Republic, a lessening of economic sanctions, and an increase in trade. There is a need to halt the automatic reaction to every provocation. There is a a need to “test the waters” for a reduction of tensions and building confidence-building measures.
In striving to build trust and political negotiations between two adversaries, confidence- building measures attempt to replace conflict with cooperation. With the purpose to diffuse tensions; confidence-building measures try to initiate a process of dialogue by promoting better communications involving governments and non-governmental representatives in building bridges of trust; thus breaking walls of suspicion and mistrust.
Montage for the Korean War Main Page in Wikipedia. By Madmax32, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
“Hawks” who are against confidence-building measures.
There is always need to build support for confidence-building measures as in all countries there are “hawks” who are against confidence-building measures while those favourable to confidence-building efforts fail to broaden their support base at the popular level. Thus, there is an important role to be played by the media, by non-governmental organizations and by academics.
Such efforts are particularly needed today when tensions, in part related to nuclear programs, are growing. Positive efforts need to be made.
René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.