On October 31 there was a roundtable titled “North Korea: A Path to Ending War and Lifting Sanctions” at Council on Foreign Relations, as part of New Strategies for Security Roundtable Series in New York.
Christine Ahn, Founder and Executive Director of Women Cross DMZ and International Coordinator of Women-led Korea Peace Now!, spoke about the subject of women in peacebuilding and what the United States can do right now to reach an agreement with North Korea. She suggested three things; declaring an end to the Korean War which has been the root cause of conflict, militarism and nuclear proliferation; lifting sanctions that impede humanitarian aid operations and economic development particularly those set up between the two Koreas; inviting women and women's peace movement to the peace process which will ensure that parties reach an agreement.
The Women-led Korea Peace Now Campaign released the first comprehensive assessment of the impact of sanctions against North Korea, which was produced by an international and multidisciplinary panel of independent experts. The report, titled ‘The Human Costs and Gendered Impact of Sanctions on North Korea’ shows that sanctions imposed on North Korea are having adverse consequences on humanitarian aid and economic development in the country, with a disproportionate impact on women.
Joy Yoon, Co-author of the report and Co-founder of the Ignis Community spoke from her perspective of years of experience working in North Korea, that sanctions delayed the delivery of life-saving treatment for children with disabilities due to the ban on importing metal in medical and rehabilitation equipment. Saying that without immediate and timely medical intervention, many North Korean children with cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities do not survive, she called for an immediate review and modification of the current global sanctions on the DPRK.
As Jamille Bigio, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy of the Council on Foreign Relations moderated the roundtable with some questions, around 40 participants were able to exchange their opinions and deepen understanding about the impact of sanctions and women’s participation in the peace process.