The Meaning and Challenge of a People’s Peace Agreement
- Centering on Key Elements of the Peace Agreement for the Korean Peninsula -
Thurs, July 23. 2020
International Zoom Convocation: Declaring a People’s Peace Agreement
Oh, Hye-ran (Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea)
- Jan. 22, 2020: The NCCK Reconciliation and Reunification Committee proposes a meeting for the formation of a preparatory committee for drafting a people’s peace agreement.
- April 17, 2020: First discussion on making a people’s peace agreement.
- May 19, 2020: Second discussion on making a people’s peace agreement.
- June-July 2020: Completion of the Declaration of the People’s Peace Agreement (formerly “Treaty“) consisting of the full text, the basic principles of the peace agreement, and the core elements of the peace agreement (12 clauses) after discussion of the task force and several working-group meetings.
2. Text of the Declaration
- It defines the end of the Korean War and the signing of a peace agreement as a "first step" to opening a new era of peace, and ending the hostilities and confrontation on the Korean Peninsula.
- It expresses the firm commitment of the people's will to complete a new era of peace with the inter-Korean and DPRK-US leaders' summits that pledged a new era of peace in the Panmunjom/Pyongyang Declarations and the Singapore Statement.
3. Basic Principles of the Peace Agreement
- In the basic principle, the parties to the Peace Agreement for the Korean Peninsula are divided into four parties: South Korea, North Korea, the U.S., and China. This will help put an end to the controversy over the configuration of the signatory parties to the Peace Agreement for the Korean Peninsula. North Korea, the U.S. and China, who are signatories to the armistice, will naturally be parties [to the Peace Agreement], while involvement of South Korea, who was not a party to the Armistice Agreement, could become a controversy. Nevertheless, South Korea should become a
partysignatory to the Peace Agreement because it was a combatting party to the Korean War and has a strong military power.
- The stipulation in the basic principles of "compliance with the U.N. Charter, respect for existing inter-Korean agreements on peaceful unification, and support for peace and unification efforts between the South and the North" reflects the perception that a Peace Agreement on the Korean Peninsula should serve as a stepping stone for overcoming division and that it is also in an alignment with the U.N.'s purpose for world peace.
- When the basic principles state that, "when the peace agreement is concluded, it should include a process for the simultaneous and step-by-step implementation of a peace regime and complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," it reflects the unified public perception that it is difficult to advance the Panmunjom/Pyongyang Declarations and the Singapore Statement including denuclearization and peace agreement policy all in one step. The simultaneous/step-by-step realization of a peace system and denuclearization will allow for full implementation of the Singapore Statement by resuming stalled inter-Korean and DPRK-US dialogue and reviving the tentative agreement at the Hanoi Summit.
4. Key Elements of the Peace Agreement
- 2nd Clause (border between South Korean and North Korea): Referring to the border not as a “national border”, but as a “policing border”, reflects the people‘s unified perception that inter-Korean relations are a special relationship within one nation, rather than between two nations. Also, regarding the maritime and air boundaries, which are not stipulated in the armistice agreement, these are regarded in the Peace Agreement as matters to be set by an agreement between the two Koreas, which reflects the people's unified perception that the non-aggression line between the two Koreas should be set independently [from foreign intervention] and that the existing Northern Limit Line cannot be the boundary line.
- The 4th Clause (non-aggression), 5th Clause (normalization of diplomatic relations), and 6th Clause (replacing domestic laws in violation of the peace agreement): As a peace agreement should not be merely a recovery of peace, but a guarantee of the continuity of the state of peace, then non-aggression measures between North and South Korea, abandonment of the use of force as a means of resolving disputes, establishment of U.S.-North Korea diplomatic relations, replacing laws that violate the peace agreement, etc. are necessary to reflect the people’s unified perception on reunification. However, in Clause 4 (on non-aggression), the reason why the parties are listed separately as the way they are in the sentence, “the parties to the Peace Agreement / the South and the North, DPRK and USA, shall refrain from the threat or use of force under any circumstances“ is to take into account some differences in the discussion process.
- The 3rd Clause (peace ecological zone), the 7th Clause (creating political and military trust), the 8th Clause (disarmament), etc.: These clauses reflect the people's unified perception that even if the two Koreas settle their hostile relations, use non-aggression, and ban the use force, this cannot completely prevent military conflict or war on its own, so military measures that guarantee the continuity of the peace state must be included in the peace agreement. In Clause 3, the transition of the existing Demilitarized Zone into a peace and ecology zone means the transformation of the DMZ, a symbol of war and division, into a symbolic place for peace and coexistence, life and reconciliation. Removing the fear of military tensions and surprise attacks between the two Koreas is an indispensable task for the establishment and stability of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. Following the Inter-Korean Joint Military Agreement (September 19, 2018), reaching an agreement on overall military confidence building and disarmament, including a ban on military drills of a certain size or more, and restrictions on the deployment of troops and weapons, will mark the stability and continuation of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
- The 9th clause (denuclearization), the 10th clause (Dismantlement of the UNC and withdrawal of foreign troops), etc.: These two clauses reflect the unified opinion of the people that a peace agreement must include denuclearization and the withdrawal of foreign troops along with disarmament between the two Koreas in order to ensure the continuation of a peaceful state. Despite many differences on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula within Korean civil society and religious organizations, the section collected here, “The DPRK shall dismantle its nuclear weapons, and the ROK and the USA shall remove its nuclear umbrella from the Korean Peninsula. The contracting parties shall ban all military and technical actions that could pose a nuclear threat to the Korean Peninsula.” is one of the greatest achievements of the People‘s Peace Agreement. Clause 10 (dismantling the UNC, Step-by-step withdrawal of foreign forces) is natural in that the dismantling of the UNC is expected measure following the complete end of the Korean War. However, on the issue of US forces in Korea, an inclusion of the sentence, “At the time of effectuation of the Peace Agreement... foreign forces [shall be] withdrawn from the Korean Peninsula,” is an meaningful achievement accomplished by the resolve of the organizations, led by the NCCK, cooperating on the proposal to create a People‘s Peace Agreement.
4. The Meaning and Challenge of
a this People’s Peace Agreement
- The agreement includes the view that it is necessary to have a legal and institutional means for the Peace Agreement to guarantee the realization of a state of peace, an end of the Korean War, and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. This means that the stage is set for the popularization of the peace agreement movement.
- It is agreed that, in relation to the contents of the peace agreement, to ensure the continuation of a state of peace, the elimination of hostility and to guarantee non-aggression, there is a necessity to include military measures such as building military trust and disarmament through normalization of relations and the withdrawal of both foreign troops and nuclear weapons. This means the preparation of a stepping stone for upgrading the movement for discussion for and realization of a peace agreement.
- It is agreed that implementing one of the key elements of the Peace Agreement and in accordance with the Panmunjom/Pyongyang Declarations and Singapore Statement, and establishing a peace system on the Korean Peninsula, requires that denuclearization should be realized in a simultaneous and step-by-step manner. This supports the rationality, practicality, and validity of the People‘s Peace Agreement.
- After that there is a need to develop more elaborately the declaration of the People‘s Peace Agreement on a realistic basis and to gather international and domestic support and concurrence through education, public relations, social dialogue, and campaigns. To this end, the Peace Agreement Preparatory Committee needs to be operated and developed in a systematic manner, and it will require cooperation and solidarity among participating organizations to be strengthened.
 The declaration of a People’s Peace Agreement states the contents to be included in the peace agreement without a sequential numbering. Each of the following terms is a number that I have attached to each clause for convenience.