Korean War

Women activists call on UN chief to help formally end Korean war

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2016, 3:47pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2016, 3:47pm

More than 100 women activists from 38 countries called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday to help bring about a peace treaty to formally end the Korean war before he steps down at the end of the year.

“He’s done his two terms, he is safe and he has an opportunity to make him a hero,” Cora Weiss, one of the activists and president of the Hague Appeal for Peace, said at a press conference.

The letter signed by 138 women urges the UN chief, a former South Korean foreign minister, to “lead the process of bringing formal closure to the longest standing war before you leave your post in the United Nations”.

The letter was submitted by WomenCrossDMZ, a non-governmental organisation that staged a walk across the demilitarised zone from North Korea to South Korea last year.

The 1950-53 war was ended by an armistice agreement signed on July 27, 1953, by leaders from the United States, North Korea and China. But although they were due to reconvene later to sign a peace treaty, that never happened.

Specifically, the group asked Ban to work with the UN Security Council president to replace the armistice with a binding peace treaty by 2018. It also urges him to make sure that women are represented in the process.

The group’s call comes amid increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, exacerbated by the North’s September 9 nuclear test – its fifth. The isolated country has been subject to five sanctions resolutions and negotiations are now underway among Security Council members to hammer out a new resolution in response to its latest test. “We are aware of their request and are looking with our offices to follow up,” said Ban’s deputy spokesman Farhan Haq.

Ban “has tried to work on the situation in the Korean Peninsula” during his tenure, with multiple rebuffed attempts to visit the country, he said. “Some of this is outside of our hands.”

Among the panellists at the press conference was Kozue Akibayashi, president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, who said the heightened tensions impact the broader region as well, including people in Japan and the Korean diaspora who live there.

“It should be very much an issue for Japanese citizens to bring peace on the Korean Peninsula,” she said. “We call for diplomacy, rather than military force to solve any problems.”

Ban will step down after 10 years as UN chief on December 31.