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Korea: a significant summit but many valleys to cross

Korea: a significant summit but there are still many valleys to cross

By Rene Wadlow

The summit meeting in Singapore on 12 June of President Donald Trump of the United States and Kim Jong-un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was a highly significant meeting, facilitated by a good number of diplomatic efforts, in particular that of Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea as well as diplomats from the People’s Republic of China. There were also active non-governmental initiatives from groups in South Korea, the USA and Japan to encourage such a summit to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

In the past, there have been a series of dangerous crises concerning the two Korean States. There are always dangers of miscalculations and unnecessary escalation of threats.


The Summit produced a framework agreement for the ultimate denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula – thus the end of the nuclear weapon capacity of North Korea and the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from South Korea. In the meantime, there would be a freeze on North Korean nuclear-weapon activity and a suspension of US-South Korean military exercises which the North Korean government has always considered “provocative” and as a rehearsal of an attack. In addition, there would be other confidence-building measures. A non-aggression pact or a strong non-aggression statement by the US has been mentioned. Other tension-reducing measures would be an increase of separated-family meetings, cultural exchanges, and perhaps a revival of joint North-South Korean economic undertakings.

Thus, there has been a definite change in the “atmosphere” from the earlier saber-rattling. However, there is still a long-way to go, and non-governmental organizations have a role to play in building on the Summit momentum.

In 2013, the Association of World Citizens had proposed in a message to then United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that there be a UN-sponsored Korean Peace Settlement Conference now that all States which participated in the 1950-1953 Korean War were members of the United Nations. 2013 was the 60th anniversary of the 1953 Armistice and thus would have a symbolic significance.

The time was not yet “ripe” in 2013. Today a peace treaty rather than the armistice could create a strong framework for cooperation. Since the 1950-1953 war was not only the war of the most active troops but of the United Nations as a whole, world citizens believe that it should be a UN Peace Settlement Conference, not only of government representatives but a peace conference in which the voices of civil society are legitimate and should be heard.

Rene Wadlow is the President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation on and problem-solving in economic and social issues

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