As U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in meet this weekend in South Korea, we urge the two leaders to work together with North Korean leader Chairman Kim Jong Un to conclude a peace agreement formally ending the Korean War.
We recommend that President Trump visit Panmunjom, which has been disarmed in accordance with the inter-Korean joint summit declaration and the inter-Korean military agreement of 2018. This is an appropriate setting in which to declare an end to the Korean War and the beginning of a new era of peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Given the failure of the second U.S.-North Korean summit in Hanoi and the military escalations that followed, it is urgent that the leaders of the three countries not miss the historic window of opportunity to finally end hostilities on the Korean Peninsula — the root cause of the nuclear crisis.
The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign of more sanctions has failed to force North Korea’s denuclearization; instead, it has had the effect of escalating military tensions and worsening the humanitarian situation in North Korea. The dire impact of sanctions led Tomás Ojea Quintana,the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea, to warn that “sanctions are affecting ordinary citizens” and that “the sanctions regime that targets the economy as a whole has a lot of problems under the international law.”
What is needed is a mutual trust-building process through dialogue and cooperation, not just between governments, but also via people-to-people engagement in order to help foster understanding among Americans, North Koreans and South Koreans. Nearly 70 years of tensions and hostilities can only be resolved by building trust step-by-step, rather than insisting on an all-or-nothing deal at the front end of this peace process. We also call on the Trump administration to lift the U.S. travel ban on Americans traveling to North Korea, which has impeded humanitarian aid, family reunions and citizen diplomacy.
Furthermore, as we have learned from other conflicts around the world, for the Korea peace process to be successful, women must have a seat at the table. Research has shown that when women are involved in peace processes, the resulting agreements are more successful and durable. Including women’s equal participation and meaningful involvement in peace processes is a commitment under UN Security Council Resolution 1325, National Action Plans in over 80 countries, and the U.S. Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017.
The women leaders are part of Korea Peace Now! Women Mobilizing to End the War, a global campaign to educate, organize, and advocate for a Korea peace agreement by 2020. Women Cross DMZ, Nobel Women’s Initiative, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and Korean Women’s Movement for Peace launched the campaign in March 2019.