Women must be at the table to resolve the Korean conflict
Coalition of women peace movement leaders demands to be at Vancouver Ministerial Meeting
For Immediate Release - January 8, 2018
Vancouver, B.C. -- A coalition of distinguished women representing feminist peace movements from across the globe is pushing to be included in the Foreign Ministers Meeting on Security and Stability in the Korean Peninsula being jointly hosted by Canada and the United States in Vancouver on January 16, 2018. The coalition has delivered a letter signed by 216 civil society organizations from 47 countries to the Foreign Ministers invited to attend the Vancouver meetings.
The delegation of 16 women experts from organizations across Asia, Europe and North America will travel next week to Vancouver to urge the Foreign Ministers gathered to pursue a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the longstanding conflict. Given the recent breakthrough on inter-Korean dialogue, the delegates will encourage government officials to support the peace process in Korea, not derail it.
“Research shows that women’s inclusion in peace processes not only yields actual peace agreements, but also more durable ones,” said Christine Ahn, International Coordinator of Women Cross DMZ, a global movement of women mobilizing to end the Korean War. “A peaceful and diplomatic solution to the Korean conflict is the only acceptable path forward. It is possible, but it requires all the best thinking, expertise and perspectives. This must include the women and civil society movements that have been left out of these discussions to date.”
A major study spanning three decades of 40 peace processes, shows that of 182 signed peace accords, an agreement was reached in all but one case when women’s groups influenced the peace process.
“Many of the women in our delegation have been to North Korea; most of the Ministers meeting in Vancouver have not. North Koreans are not invited to attend, so it is essential to include in the talks those who have been on the ground in North Korea, who have seen the cost to ordinary people, and who bring a human element to a very human reality,” said Lee Moon Sook, Vice-chairperson of the Reconciliation and Reunification Committee, National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK).
“Sanctions are often characterized as a peaceful alternative to military action, but they are in fact incredibly damaging to the people of the country who feel the suffering directly in their daily lives,” said Ewa Eriksson Fortier, who was previously Head of Country Delegation in Pyongyang, DPRK for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and has since returned for several country visits.
“Just last November, we welcomed the Canadian government’s announcement of Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, a key element in Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy. This is a crucial test of whether or not that Plan is more than a piece of paper,” said Patti Talbot, Chair, Global Partnerships, The United Church of Canada. “We are encouraged by Canada’s leadership in co-convening these talks. We now look to our government to make good on their word about our country’s feminist foreign policy.”
The group is asking for the opportunity to present to and meet with the foreign ministers as part of the formal talks on January 16.
Available for media comment:
Women Cross DMZ
LEE MOON SOOK
National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK)
Vice-chairperson of the Reconciliation and Reunification Committee
Republic of Korea
The United Church of Canada
Chair, Global Partnerships
604 760 4366
Letter to Foreign Ministers
Mary O’Reilly, Andrea Ō Sůilleabháin, and Thania Paffenholz. (2015), “Reimagining Peacemaking: Women’s Roles in Peace Processes,” New York. International Peace Institute.
Bios of all delegates (with photos)