Voices from women peacebuilders to de-escalate tensions with North Korea

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Despite the growing fears of war between North Korea and the United States, there is still ample opportunity for a diplomatic solution to the current situation. One group of female leaders is speaking out against escalating tensions and advocating for diplomacy and peace.

As the tensions between North Korea and the United States rise, the possibility of a high-stakes war between nuclear-armed states is once again a major international concern.

US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has made references to the use of military force against North Korea and has conducted more military exercises with South Korea.

This has prompted a response by Pyongyang to test rocket engines and allude to the testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles. The back and forth between the two nations is contributing to instability on the Korean peninsula and endangering the lives and security of people in the region.

On April 26, 2017, female leaders from over 40 countries, including representatives from the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), joined together to speak out against the escalating conflict and call for nonviolent and diplomatic means to relieve the tensions. They recommend three specific actions to “avert war in Korea and bring about a long-desired peace on the peninsula.”

  1. Negotiate a freeze of North Korea’s nuclear program and long-range ballistic program in exchange for a U.S. security guarantee that would include suspending U.S.-South Korea military exercises.
  2. Initiate a peace process with North Korea, South Korea and China to replace the 1953 Armistice Agreement with a binding peace treaty to end the Korean War. Women must be significantly represented in the peace process in accordance with the spirit of UNSCR 1325.
  3. Support citizen diplomacy to heal the legacies of the Korean War by establishing a liaison office in Washington and Pyongyang to facilitate retrieval of U.S. Korean War servicemen’s remains and Korean-American family reunions.

Despite the growing fears of war, there is still ample opportunity for a diplomatic solution to the current situation. There may be a greater opportunity now for renewed talks between the US and North Korea, and the potential to finally bring a formal end to war on the peninsula.

Building bridges between the US, the DPRK, and South Korea, through high-level diplomacy as well as track II dialogues and people-to-people peacebuilding can help to de-escalate the conflict and reopen the potential for negotiated peace.

Focusing first on humanitarian issues can appeal to both sides and pave the way for broader dialogue on nonproliferation and more sustainable solutions for both parties.

Listening to civil society voices like these international women and building practical peace processes at the local level will improve the prospects for peace.

Local groups that are advocating for nonviolent resistance to further military action need to be supported. Peaceful relations are still possible and should be at the forefront of any foreign policy that comes out of the White House.

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