There has often been criticism of how the Security Council conducts its deliberations. One recent civil society effort to contribute to improvement of the negotiation process in the UN Security Council was sent to the Security Council in January 2020.(1) It was an open letter to members of the Security Council, dated January 7, 2020.(2)
The letter is titled “We cannot possibly go back to times of competition and hostility.” In their letter, four civil society organizations present both an analysis of the current situation and propose what they see as needed steps toward transforming the roadblocks to fruitful progress in the negotiation.
Pointing out that this year marks the 70th year since the beginning of the Korean War, the letter proposes that Korean civil society is an important agent to contribute to peace on the Korean Peninsula. The letter proposes that not only the DPRK and the US, but also the whole international community is needed to contribute to “peace-forwarding actions.”
The letter notes that there were no meaningful negotiations either after “last year’s Hanoi Summit nor after the meeting at Panmunjom in June 2019.”
Though the US and DPRK at their Singapore meeting declared that “mutual trust building” would “expedite denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”, this agreement was not implemented.
In particular the letter notes “that the U.S. has not taken any measures to show their trust compared to DPRK’s set of actions including a freeze of nuclear and missile experiments.”
That is why, the letter proposes, there have been “no points of contact” between the two parties.
“We are strongly against a practical muddling through of the U.S. by insisting ‘denuclearization first'” the letter explains, critiquing the US position, and critiquing the DPRK, for the “North’s missile tests conduct that creates militaristic tensions.”
The letter proposes that the United Nations and the U.S. “lift the sanctions against the DPRK that are related to humanitarian aid at least.”
The letter points out that the original claimed purpose of the sanctions was to act as “a medium of problem-solving.” Instead, however, the sanctions have developed to a point of “aggravating the situation” for the people of the DPRK. Also the sanctions have been used to stymie inter-peninsula cooperation.
The letter asks that the UN Security Council have constructive discussions about partially lifting economic sanctions “which could lead to the negotiation table.” And it urges Seoul and Washington to pause the joint exercises they have planned for March 2020. It also calls for resolute action by the ROK government to “proactively ask for broad sanction lifting and to exercise some autonomy in solving the problem.”
The letter points out that the efforts toward inter-Korean exchange and cooperation projects were prevented from happening by the economic sanction of the UN and US. Among these were Mount Geumgang tours, humanitarian cooperation for separated families, road and rail connect projects, and the formation of a Joint South-North Military Committee etc.
The groups writing the letter propose that “We will strive to mark 2020 a year to be one that will halt the war and open the way to a new age of peace.”
The groups signing the letter include, Civil Society Organization Network in Korea – Civil Peace Forum, Korean Confederation of Religions for Peace, Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, Korean NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea, and the Southern Committee on June 15 Joint Declaration.
(1) See Ronda Hauben, “Channel for Individuals or NGO’s to Send Communication to UN Security Council, netizenblog, Jan 29, 2017.
(2) “Open Letter to Security Council, ‘We cannot possibly how back to times of competition and hostility’.”