Korea Peace Now! Events Impacted by COVID-19

Due to the emerging global health crisis posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, several Korea Peace Now! events have been canceled or postponed. This includes the Human Rights Council side event “Peace on the Korean Peninsula as a Human Rights Issue: War, Sanctions, and Women Peacebuilders” (scheduled for March 5, 2020 in Geneva), the Commission on the Status of Women side event “70 Years Is Enough: Transnational Feminist Movement to End the Korean War” (scheduled for March 13, 2020 in New York), and “70 Years Too Long: National Action to End the Korean War” (scheduled for March 15-17, 2020 in Washington, DC).

Although both the Human Rights Council and Commission on the Status of Women­ side event cancellations were beyond our control, the organizers of Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network, Korea Peace Network, and Peace Treaty Now agreed that in the interest of protecting everyone’s health it would be best to postpone the National Action to End the Korean War in Washington, DC. The convening is tentatively rescheduled for July 26-28, 2020.

While we regret these cancellations and postponements, the members of Korea Peace Now! will announce alternative actions in the coming days and weeks. Stay tuned.

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The Korea Peace Now! Campaign Urges Increased Humanitarian Aid to DPRK and Sanctions Relief for Coronavirus Prevention

In light of growing concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and the vulnerability of the civilian population in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK/North Korea) while under crippling sanctions and forced isolation, the members of the global campaign Korea Peace Now! Women Mobilizing to End the War urge governments around the world to take every step available to increase humanitarian and medical assistance to the DPRK. That includes increasing contributions to the UN, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and other humanitarian organizations providing aid in the DPRK, working with the UN Security Council and the US government to ensure unhindered delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid, and offering direct assistance to North Korea. The campaign also urges the UN Security Council and governments imposing sanctions on the DPRK to lift or reform those undermining the capacity of the government to respond to the humanitarian crises as found in the October 2019 Korea Peace Now-commissioned independent report “The Human Costs and Gendered Impact of Sanctions on North Korea.”

With an impending pandemic, now is the time for all countries to work together for the health and safety of everyone.

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CANCELED: Human Rights Council Side Event Panel to Address the Link Between Peace and Human Rights on the Korean Peninsula

UPDATE, MARCH 2, 2020: Due to the global COVID-19 situation, all side events at the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva have been canceled. (effective 3 March 2020 until the end of the session)

For immediate release:

February 24, 2020

Panel to Address the Link Between Peace and Human Rights on the Korean Peninsula

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the DPRK will be among the speakers

Geneva, Switzerland—As the unresolved Korean War enters its 70th year, a panel discussion will explore the connection between peace and human rights, the impact of sanctions on human rights, and the role of women peacebuilders in resolving the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Tomás Ojea Quintana, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), will be among the speakers.

Peace on the Korean Peninsula as a Human Rights Issue: War, Sanctions, and Women Peacebuilders,” a side event to the 43rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, will also include several co-authors of the Oct. 2019 report The Human Costs and Gendered Impact of Sanctions on North Korea, the first comprehensive assessment of the adverse consequences of sanctions for ordinary North Koreans. The panel is being organized by the global campaign Korea Peace Now! Women Mobilizing to End the War, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, World Council of Churches, and will take place ahead of an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the DPRK and an oral update on the DPRK at the Human Rights Council.

“A declaration on peace and development in the Korean Peninsula, and a swift resolution of the armistice status, would create the atmosphere and space needed for further discussions on denuclearization, less isolation, more access, and respect for human rights,” said Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The unresolved Korean War has perpetuated a worsening security and human rights crisis on the Korean Peninsula,” said Ko YouKyoung, a consultant for Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), one of four women’s peace groups that launched the Korea Peace Now! global campaign in 2019. “But in order to get to peace, women must be included in the process.”

“Sanctions have not only been ineffective at convincing the DPRK to denuclearize, but in their current form may be in violation of international law, in particular humanitarian and human rights norms,” said Henri Feron, a co-author of The Human Costs and Gendered Impact of Sanctions on North Korea and a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Nina Maria Hansen, Communications Manager, WILPF, nina[dot]hansen[at]wilpf[dot]org.

What: Panel discussion on“Peace on the Korean Peninsula as a Human Rights Issue: War, Sanctions, and Women Peacebuilders”

Where: Room VII, Palais Des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland

When: 5 March 2020, 11:00 a.m.-12:00pm

Speakers:

  • Peter Prove, Director, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, World Council of Churches (moderator)
  • Ewa Eriksson, former Head of Country Delegation in the DPRK for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (retired)
  • Kevin Gray, Professor of International Relations, University of Sussex
  • Youkyoung Ko, Consultant, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
  • Henri Feron, Senior Fellow, Center for International Policy
  • Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK

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Korean Women’s Movement for Peace Wins Women Have Wings Award

The Korean Women’s Movement for Peace — the South Korean partners of the global campaign Korea Peace Now! — have been named one of the 2019 recipients of the Women Have Wings Award.

The award, which was started in 2012, “honors women of courage who have taken bold risks to ensure a more just and peaceful future for us all.” About the Korean Women’s Movement for Peace, the judges wrote:

This alliance is the product of tireless efforts from its members, in a dangerous and complex context of US-North Korea relations, and is a testament to their courageous and powerful commitment to peace on the Korean Peninsula…

These visionary women have not hesitated to make courageous calls for humanitarian assistance to North Korea to address chronic food shortages — free from U.S. constraints and influence — at a time when it is risky and controversial for the government to do so without aligning closely with the Trump administration. They have been instrumental in breaking the war narrative in the Korean Peninsula, broadening the vision of peace beyond national borders, and building bridges between women in Seoul, Pyongyang and Tokyo who would never have been together in the previous years. Despite years of threats, harassment and accusations of violating security laws while working for peace, they immediately seized the window of democratic political space that opened to make the most of it, without fear of consequences should it turn out to be shortlived.

The Korean Women’s Movement for Peace is a coalition of four South Korean women’s organizations — Korean Women’s Association United, Women Making Peace, National YWCA of Korea and Korea Women’s Alliance — and launched the Korea Peace Now! campaign in South Korea on May 24, 2019, International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament. The goals of the Korea Peace Now! campaign — which also includes the Nobel Women’s Initiative, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and Women Cross DMZ — include ending the 70-years-long Korean War with a peace agreement, and making sure women are included in the peace process.

Read the full announcement here.

Korea Peace Now! Condemns the Trump Administration’s Decision to Loosen Restrictions on the Use of Landmines

For immediate release
January 31, 2020

The Korea Peace Now! campaign strongly condemns the Trump administration’s decision to loosen restrictions on the US military’s ability to use landmines.

Given that the DMZ has one of the highest concentrations of landmines in the world, that the United States has stated its commitment to build a “lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula,” and that the two leaders of Korea pledged to transform the Korean Peninsula “into a land of peace free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threats,” the decision to expand the use of landmines is antithetical to the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, as well as a threat to the peace and security of Koreans, Americans, and people all over the world.

“The United States, South Korea, and North Korea should be signing the Mine Ban Treaty to once and for all end the use of these horrific weapons of war,” said Jody Williams, the chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. “Mr. Trump should not be rolling back U.S. landmine policy when we have been making steady progress in creating a landmine-free world.”

Williams shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which she helped create. In 2018, she met with soldiers in South Korea who described to her how the process of de-mining portions of the DMZ with North Korean soldiers led to a greater understanding of their shared humanity. “Artificial borders and weapons keep us apart when we need to come together,” said Williams.

The women leaders of Korea Peace Now! point out that while the Obama administration restricted the use of landmines and put a moratorium on production, it excluded the Korean Peninsula, allowing the US military to continue to use landmines there.

“Landmines have killed and maimed hundreds of people in South Korea since the Korean War, and hundreds of landmines remain,” said Youngmi Cho, executive director of the Korean Women’s Movement for Peace. “They are not making us any safer, and they will not make the world any safer. This is a dangerous step backward for peace.”

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VIDEO: How Sanctions Harm Civilians in North Korea, Especially Women

A report commissioned by Korea Peace Now! shows that sanctions imposed on North Korea are having adverse consequences on humanitarian aid and economic development in the country, with a disproportionate impact on women. Read “The Human Costs and Gendered Impact of Sanctions on North Korea.”

Join the National Grassroots Gathering for Peace in Korea in March 2020

2020 marks the 70th year of the Korean War. It’s time to end the war and make it year one of peace.

Join the Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network, Peace Treaty Now and the Korea Peace Network in Washington DC to raise a unified voice for an end to the Korean War and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

What: 70 Years Too Long: National Action to End the Korean War

Where: Washington, DC

When: March 15-17, 2020

Schedule of events:

SUNDAY, MARCH 15

“End All Endless Wars, Korea Peace Now!” March and Rally at the White House
Time: 1-2:30 pm
Location: Lafayette Square, Pennsylvania Ave. NW & 16th St. NW, Washington, DC

Joint National Convening of the Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network and Peace Treaty Now
Time: 3-5 pm (followed by dinner and dwipuri)
Location: Human Rights Campaign, 1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington, DC
Registration required.

MONDAY, MARCH 16

Annual Korea Peace Network Conference
Time: 8:30 am-1:30 pm
Location: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 301 A St. SE, Washington, DC
Registration required.

“70 Years of War and Division: The Path to Peace with North Korea”
Public forum with keynote by Dr. Bruce Cumings

Location: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 301 A St. SE, Washington, DC

  • 1:30-2pm: Keynote address by Dr. Bruce Cumings
  • 2-3:15pm: “70 Years of the Korean War”: intergenerational Korean American women dialogue. Speakers: Joy Lee Powell Gebhard; Aiyoung Choi, Women Cross DMZ; Grace Choi, Re-generational Movement; Minju Bae, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development; Yeonhee Kim, Korea Peace Now! Hawaii
  • 3:30-4:30pm: “The Path to Peace”: panel on the challenges and opportunities for a peaceful resolution to the conflict between the US and North Korea. Speakers: Jessica Lee, Senior Research Fellow in the East Asia Program at the Quincy Institute; Joy Yoon, Co-Founder and International Director of the Ignis Community; Erik Sperling, Executive Director of Just Foreign Policy; Catherine Killough, Advocacy and Leadership Coordinator of Women Cross DMZ

TUESDAY, MARCH 17

Korea Peace Advocacy
Time: 9 am-5 pm
Location: Capitol Hill, Washington, DC
Registration required.

For more info: contact US National Organizer Hyun Lee.

Letter to President Trump and Chairman Kim from the Korea Peace Now! Campaign

December 16, 2019

Dear President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un:

We are representatives of Korea Peace Now!, a women-led global campaign to end the Korean War. Our coalition includes Nobel Peace laureates, activists, professors, human rights lawyers, a retired Army colonel, and a recipient of the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.

We are writing to respectfully urge you to find a peaceful settlement while the window of diplomatic opportunity is still open.

Christmas has been an occasion to call for peace on earth and goodwill to all people. During World War I, there were spontaneous truces in which soldiers would cast aside their guns, crawl out of the trenches, and embrace their enemies. We appeal to you to demonstrate the same magnanimous spirit.

A return to escalation would not only reignite the danger of nuclear war, but also seriously set back the political momentum for peace painstakingly built over the past two years. Ever since the Singapore Declaration called for “new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity,” we have seen growing and unprecedented support for normalization.  A recent poll conducted by YouGov and Data for Progress shows that 67 percent of Americans now support negotiating a peace agreement with the DPRK, and support is even higher among registered Republican voters, at 76 percent.

As a global movement dedicated to ending the Korean War, we have consistently advocated that a durable resolution of the conflict requires a peace agreement, sanctions relief, women’s participation in the peace process, and the right of all to live without fear of nuclear war. Any delay prolongs the suffering of those who wish to live in peace.

Next June, the Korean War will have languished for 70 years. We must all push back against the forces, habits, and structures that perpetuate it.

As peace activists, we are doing our utmost to educate the public, organize peace-loving people everywhere, and encourage all sides to find a resolution. Thanks to the bold steps you have taken to meet and engage with each other, the historic resolution we helped introduce in the US Congress this year to formally end the Korean War with a peace agreement now has over 40 co-sponsors, and the list is growing.

There can be no progress or resolution, however, without meaningful talks. Too often, one step forward in diplomacy is followed by two steps back in opposition. This Christmas, we urge you to finish what you started and do what no other US and DPRK leaders have succeeded in doing: end the Korean War.

You have the power to heal millions of hearts broken by three generations of war. We are counting on you to implement the vision of peace that Koreans, Americans, and all citizens of the world wish for.

May peace prevail on the Korean Peninsula and around the world.

Sincerely,

Korean Women’s Movement for Peace (Korea Women’s Association United, Women Making Peace, National YWCA of Korea, and Korea Women’s Alliance)

Nobel Women’s Initiative

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Women Cross DMZ

Liz Bernstein Announced as Co-Coordinator of Korea Peace Now!

Effective immediately, Liz Bernstein has been named Co-Coordinator of the global campaign Korea Peace Now! Women Mobilizing to End the War.

Bernstein is the founding Director and Executive Director of the Ottawa-based Nobel Women’s Initiative, one of four organizations — including Women Cross DMZ, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and the Korean Women’s Movement for Peace — that launched the Korea Peace Now! campaign in March. She brings with her decades of experience in growing the global women’s peace movement and amplifying the messages of grassroots activists from conflict countries. She is a master campaigner and has led many successful global campaigns, including the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Bernstein joins Christine Ahn, Executive Director of Women Cross DMZ, as Co-Coordinator of Korea Peace Now!

“I’m honored to be named the co-coordinator of the women-led Korea Peace Now! campaign,” said Bernstein. “Ending the Korean War is one of the important pressing issues for global peace and security, and women’s leadership is key to ensuring a successful peace process. I look forward to working with our campaign partners to achieve these goals.”

Korea Peace Now! Women Mobilizing to End the War is a global campaign to educate, organize and advocate for a Korea peace agreement. It is a growing movement of civil society organizations working for an end to war, lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, and women’s inclusion in the peace process.

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Letter to UN Security Council Regarding Sanctions on North Korea

Members of the United Nations Security Council

December 11, 2019

Dear Ambassadors,

We are writing to you as members of the international women-led campaign Korea Peace Now! Women Mobilizing to End the War.  

As you gather today to discuss the security crisis on the Korean Peninsula, we urge you to take a holistic approach considering the human costs of sanctions-based responses. The North Korean civilian population is caught in the crossfire of a geopolitical dispute they have little to no control over, perpetuated by the lack of resolution to the Korean War and made more acute by the imposition of sanctions so comprehensive they threaten their very existence. As it is part of the fundamental principles of the United Nations to settle disputes peacefully and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, we urge you to call for an end to the Korean War and to review the conformity of nonproliferation sanctions to international human rights and humanitarian law.

Recently, our campaign commissioned a panel of independent experts to produce a report, “The Human Costs and Gendered Impact of Sanctions on North Korea,” which highlighted the negative consequences of sanctions on the lives of the North Korean people. According to the report, the sanctions regime against North Korea has since 2016 grown from a “smart sanctions” model essentially targeting the military and the elite to an almost total embargo on North Korea-related trade, investments, and financial transactions. Drawing evidence from UN and nongovernmental organizations on the ground as well as other relevant datasets, the report found that sanctions are having humanitarian, developmental and gendered impacts and that existing sanctions exemption mechanisms are insufficient to prevent adverse consequences. It raised concerns that the sanctions in their current form may overstep what is permissible under international humanitarian and human rights law, highlighting the rights to life, food, health, an adequate standard of living, and development, as well as women’s rights.

While the Security Council has repeatedly stated that its sanctions are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences, in their current form, sanctions are interfering with the ability of both international aid organizations and of the North Korean government to address the urgent and long-standing humanitarian needs of the population. According to the UN Panel of Experts, a wide range of humanitarian-sensitive items are banned from entering the country, including agricultural material and medical equipment, and generally any items containing metal, such as scalpels or nails.

Sanctions are also impeding the economic development of the DPRK, reversing the country’s growing trade and engagement with the world. This undermines progress that North Korea made in overcoming the economic crisis and famine of the 1990s, particularly market activity led by grassroots women, a key engine of social change. Sanctions undermine women’s economic security and their livelihoods, perhaps most clearly with UNSC resolution 2375’s ban on textile exports, an industry in which 82 percent of workers are female. Increasing gender inequality is counterproductive to the stated aims of those advocating sanctions. Furthering a gender divide and marginalising women from any form of economic power and, hence, influence (even if limited) serves only to institutionalise the disparities that empirical research in various conflicts has shown is inimical to peace building.

As the crushing North Korean winter sets in and as expatriate North Korean workers are forced to give up their jobs by the end of the year and return to the DPRK, we urge you to urgently address the unfolding human tragedy by (1) opening the space for dialogue on the adverse consequences of sanctions and the question of their conformity to international human rights and humanitarian law, (2) establishing a process to assess the human impact of sanctions and take expedient action to mitigate and ultimately eliminate undue harm; and (3) calling on the relevant parties to the unresolved Korean War to formally end it by replacing the 1953 Armistice with a peace agreement.

We look forward to your response and constructive engagement.

Sincerely,

Korean Women’s Movement for Peace
Nobel Women’s Initiative
Women Cross DMZ
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)