UNITED NATIONS: A hundred prominent women from 38 countries have directed a petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to fulfill his promise to achieve a permanent peace to end the Korean War.
In a letter made public on Tuesday, a diverse group of scholars, journalists, activists and writers pressed him to use his remaining time as UN chief to “initiate a peace process, together with the UN Security Council president, to replace the 1953 armistice agreement with a binding peace treaty to end the Korean War.”
Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, is set to step down in January.
The signatories urged him to “conclude this peace process by 2018, the 70th anniversary of Korea’s division into two separate states” and “ensure that women are significantly represented in the peace process.”
“On both sides of the DMZ (demilitarized zone separating the two sides), the absence of a binding peace accord fuels fear, violations of human rights and economic deprivation caused by diverting resources in preparation for war,” the letter says.
Among the sources of tension, the letter lists North Korea’s recent nuclear and ballistic missiles tests — which prompted international sanctions against Pyongyang — as well as US-South Korean military exercises and plans to deploy a US missile defense system in the South.
That latest move “is viewed by countries in the region as a highly provocative and potentially destabilizing move,” the letter says, referring especially to China.
The letter was co-sponsored by Women Cross DMZ — which organized a peaceful walk across the zone last year — and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
Signatories include the American feminist champion Gloria Steinem, playwright Eve Ensler, UNESCO goodwill ambassador Kim Phuc, former CIA officer Valerie Plame and Nobel Peace laureates Mairead Maguire (Northern Ireland) and Leymah Gbowee (Liberia).
The Korean War (1950-1953) ended with an armistice, not a formal peace treaty, leaving the Korean peninsula technically at war for the past 63 years.
A peace treaty between the Koreas must be signed by the United States and China, which both took part in the conflict. AFP