FIRST STEP: the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula
On 16 January 2018, 16 women peace leaders from Republic of Korea (South Korea), Japan, Guam, United States, Sweden and Canada in Vancouver, Canada, where the governments of Canada and the US co-hosted the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula. The Women’s Delegation was organised by WILPF, Women Cross DMZ, Nobel Women’s Initiatives, Voices of Canadian Women for Peace and United Churches of Canada to urge 20 foreign ministers at the meeting to pursue dialogue and engagement with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and to end the Korean War that has lasted with an armistice for over six decades.
In the face of the rising belligerent and crudely masculine exchanges between the US President and DPRK leader, the Women’s Delegation believed there was an opportunity to better the situation on and surrounding the Korean Peninsula. They requested to be included in the Foreign Ministers meeting as a civil society representative. However, this request was denied: the Women’s Delegation was not invited to the official Foreign Ministers Meeting. Their participation was limited to the civil society round-table with selected government representatives organised by the Canadian government and bilateral meetings in the margins of the official talks.
Lacking substantial contribution of women peacemakers, the outcome of the Foreign Ministers’ meeting was disappointing: it focused on increasing broad-based sanctions and maximising pressure. Given the militarised approaches so far and the deeply detrimental impacts of sanctions on the ordinary people in DPRK, who have already suffered many natural disasters and severe scarce of resources, this was a concerning result.
Although the co-chair’s meeting summary recognised the importance of civil society and women’s organisations for peace, token recognition is not enough. Tightening sanctions and maximising pressure is not diplomacy. Genuine diplomacy requires democratic dialogue and engagement. A stronger voice of feminist peace activists around the world demanding genuine diplomacy is being called for now.
Read the January 2018 Women Cross the DMZ Statement here>
SECOND STEP: Signing a Panmunjeom Agreement
On 27 April 2018, South Korean President Moon Jae-In and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-Un met in the DMZ at Panmunjeom and signed a historic agreement declaring an end to the war and a new era for peace in Korea. The Panmunjeom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity, and Unification of the Korean Peninsula outlines sweeping plans to reunite the Korean people through family reunions and civil society exchanges, reduce military tensions by transforming the DMZ and the West Sea into peace zones, and achieve a nuclear-free Korea Peninsula. This set a very clear roadmap for where the two Koreas are heading. Given how much is at stake now, it is crucial that the prospect of peace rests on the collective engagement by state and non-state actorsworking together to ensure that peace prevails.
Given the critical window facing the two Koreas, Women Cross DMZ and the Nobel Women’s Initiative arrived to Seoul, South Korea from May 23 to 26 to strategise with the Women’s Peace Walk on how to ensure our inclusion and launch a women-led Korea Peace Treaty campaign. Our four-day gathering will include a day-long “Korea School” and a strategy meeting between South Korean and international activists, an all-women's symposium at the Republic of Korea National Assembly, meetings with key South Korean officials and the foreign diplomatic community and a peace walk along the DMZ calling for a Peace Treaty.
As a global community, we all have a responsibility to finally bring an end to the Korean War. The Korean people need our solidarity at this critical hour, and women’s peace movements from Canada, China, Colombia, Guam, Hawaii, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Mongolia, Northern Ireland, Philippines, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom and elsewhere will be working together to see through a Peace Treaty that formally ends the Korean War and ensures women’s inclusion in the peace process to build a just and feminist postwar Korea.
Today, WomenCrossDMZ, which WILPF is a steering committee member of, continues to urge the international community to support a peace process with women’s participation and rights at the centre in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1325. “Given the critical window to secure a lasting peace, women must have a seat in the official peace process”, the coalition says in their statement.