South Korea: PyeongChang? The 'new name' for peace
by Jonathan Frerichs, UN representative on disarmament, Geneva
18/2/19 - PyeongChang, South Korea, is the home of last year’s Winter Olympics. Now it’s the home of a “Global Peace Forum” too.
There’s a connection. Careful preparations and hockey diplomacy at the 2018 Olympics signaled an opportunity. They touched off a year of inter-Korean dialogue, summitry and other successes, after years of nuclear confrontation and belligerent rhetoric. The Olympic Organizing Committee decided to cap the year by inviting more than 500 people to PyeongChang. From 9-11 February 2019, advocates, academics and activists from 50 countries debated the synergies between peace, sports, sustainable development, gender equality, climate justice and disarmament.
The provincial governor and local mayor, two national cabinet ministers and the head of the Korea International Cooperation Agency took part in the ceremonies. More than one host official declared with a smile, “PyeongChang is a new name for peace’,
Pax Christi International was among the international civil society co-sponsors of the gathering. The Catholic peace movement contributed to panels on the UN Secretary General’s recent Agenda for Disarmament, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and inter-religious cooperation for peace.
The PyeongChang Global Peace Forum ended by adopting three forward-looking resolutions.
“Immediately declare the end of the Korean War and negotiate and sign a peace treaty,” says a resolution on the peace process in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia. It calls for the forthcoming summit in Vietnam between the US and North Korean leaders to issue a “concrete declaration of the end of the Korean War”.
The resolution also affirms the relevance of the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons “in building a durable peace in Northeast Asia”.
A more general PyeongChang Declaration for Peace 2019: “Sustainable Future for All: Ending War, Guaranteeing Peace” notes that the 1999 Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century “must live on”. Like the Hague Appeal, on which it hopes to build next year, the PyeongChang declaration says “it is time to end all wars” and calls peace “an inherent human right for all”.
The South Korean host organizations plan to convene another forum in 2020 to debate and adopt a “PyeongChang Agenda for Peace 2030”.
(Photo: Anselmo Lee [right], the PyeongChang Global Peace Forum conference program director with Jonathan Frerichs at the Goseong Unification Observatory, where the DMZ meets the sea on the northeast coast of the Korean Peninsula. The land in the background is North Korean territory.)