STATEMENT: New escalations in the North Korea crisis: determined diplomacy is the only option for de-escalation
Pax Christi International shares the deep concerns of the global community over the crisis between North Korea and the United States. (1) Tensions have intensified with yet another nuclear test of North Korea met by confrontational rhetoric and sabre-rattling of the United States at the UN Security Council meeting on 4 September. (2) We believe this crisis can be solved and that the threat or use of military force is absolutely not an option, as it will lead inevitably to further provocations and potentially to catastrophic destruction. Instead, the international community should tap into its deep experience and employ its most creative diplomats to identify and carefully choose alternatives to rebuild trust and return the parties to the negotiation table.
We urge the international community to focus on confidence-building and dialogue among the key countries instead of tougher sanctions on North Korea. In the last month, the UN Security Council already imposed additional sanctions, which have – now as in the past- not deterred the country from military action or brought it back to the negotiation table. Most importantly, new sanctions could have severe humanitarian consequences on the people of North Korea furthering isolation and animosity instead of encouraging the rapprochement which is essential for progress towards peace in the Korean peninsula.
To build confidence and restart dialogue between North Korea, its neighbours and the United States will not be easy, but it is not impossible, as the stakes are high for all parties involved as well as the rest of the world. It will require a deep commitment to genuine dialogue, diplomacy and cooperation, so that countries do not feel the need to entrench themselves behind the threat to use force. (3) Moreover, states and regional and international organisations can build on the wealth of acquired expertise and developed tools by playing crucial roles in the mediation, conciliation and negotiation of solutions in past conflicts around the world. (4) Switzerland has already declared its willingness to act as a mediator to help resolve the crisis and South Korean president Moon Jae-in has shown openness to dialogue with the North.
At its root, the crisis over North Korea is an urgent opportunity to make progress in solving two untenable legacies of the Cold War: the destabilizing division of Korea and the immoral commitment to nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence among the states with the greatest responsibility for ensuring international peace and security. As stated by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, "The realization of denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula can be a turning point, making it possible for future generations to dream of the world based on justice, love, and respect for all creation."
Pax Christi International hopes that diplomacy and dialogue will replace the latest round of dangerous warmongering and sabre-rattling and eventually lead us on a path towards peace and reconciliation that will lead one day to a permanent peace treaty. We therefore call upon the United States, North Korea and other countries to stop all threatening rhetoric and military actions; and the European Union, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the United Nations:
- to reject additional sanctions on North Korea;
- to focus on confidence building measures and promoting respectful dialogue between North Korea, the United States and other countries that could lead to negotiations in the context of the Six Party Talks and the inescapable undertaking of signing a peace agreement for the Korean peninsula.
- to pursue conclusive steps that lead towards de-nuclearizing the crisis and multilateral nuclear disarmament, namely for a Northeast Asia Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone and as part of the global obligation to abolish nuclear weapons under the terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the new treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
1. See also our statement of 14 August 2017: http://www.paxchristi.net/news/need-diplomacy-and-new-talks-north-korea-....
2. UN, ‘Security Council Condemns Underground Nuclear Test by Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, with Members Calling for Tougher Sanctions’, Meeting Coverage, SC/12978, 4 September 2017, online available at: https://www.un.org/press/en/2017/sc12978.doc.htm.
3. Crux, ‘U.S.-North Korea: Vatican official says conflict is ‘always the wrong way’, 10 August 2017, online available at: https://cruxnow.com/global-church/2017/08/10/us-north-korea-vatican-offi....
4. To illustrate, information on expertise and tools can be found in the UN Secretary General June 2017 report on the UN activities in support of mediation: http://peacemaker.un.org/sites/peacemaker.un.org/files/SGReport-Mediatio... and the EU External Action Service 2016 background note on global challenges and trends in mediation and diplomacy: http://eeas.europa.eu/archives/docs/cfsp/conflict_prevention/docs/201605....