Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have recently increased, highlighted by the nuclear weapon test of North Korea and the subsequent reactions. In a message to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, René Wadlow, President of the Association of World Citizens, stressed that a crisis also can be an opportunity for strong initiatives and action and that the United Nations with historic responsibilities for Korea should take the lead.
The 1950-1953 Korean War was undertaken by UN Security Council Resolutions 82, 83, and 84. twenty-one UN Member States (16 combatants and 5 humanitarian) joined to support the UN Command.
The 27 July 1953 Armistice was signed by the UN Command Delegation and by Delegations of the Korean People’s Army and the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army.
The 1950-1953 Korean War set the stage for later Cold War tensions in Asia, tensions which have prevented an Asia-wide organization of security and cooperation as was possible in Europe with the OSCE.
Today, with the entry of the two Korean States to the United Nations in 1991, all the States involved in the Korean War are members of the United Nations.
Partial measures of cooperation between the two Korean States, the 6-Party talks on nuclear issues and a number of Track II diplomatic efforts have shown the possibilities but also the limits of partial measures.
With conditions of insecurity growing and also threatening Korea’s neighbors, the Korean situation is a “matter which may threaten international peace and security.” Therefore, the Citizens of the World call for a UN-led Korean Peace Settlement Conference to be organized during 2013 — the 60th anniversary of the 1953 Armistice.
Such a UN-sponsored Korean Peace Settlement Conference can build upon past partial measures and especially meet the new challenges of security and cooperation in Asia. The Association of World Citizens also stresses that such a Peace Settlement Conference is of concern not only of governments but is one in which the voices of civil society are legitimate and should be heard.
René Wadlow is World Citizens’ representative to the UN Geneva.