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Intervention of H.E. Anthony Carmona in the Think Tank 2022 Forum

Intervention of H.E. Anthony Carmona, President, Trinidad and Tobago (2013-2018), in the ISCP Session of the Think Tank 2022 Forum on 1 February, 2022.

There is international consensus that the undeclared state of war subsisting between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) must be brought to an end. This unconditional cessation of hostility in the Korean Peninsula would give added traction to Goal Number 16 of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Bringing North and South Korea to the table of peace requires international mobilisation through advocacy and genuine global cooperation and collaboration. What is required is forward thinking, not revisiting the painful past but coming to terms with the intergenerational and intra-generational hopes and ambition for a United Korean people. A United Korea must adhere to a governance structure that recognises and respects human rights, the rule of law, due process and the rules of natural justice.

A public survey conducted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Asia Program saw that the majority of South Koreans felt the need for a unified Korea and one that continues to have alliances with the US and China. There is a sense, however, that the Korean people want to be ‘the friends of many and the satellite of none’ and the super powers must respect this. Much was anticipated in July 2021 when the North and South Korean leaders exchanged diplomatic letters agreeing to restore relations after a significant hiatus arising out of an incident at an inter-Korean liaison office, funded by South Korea. Pyongyang State media stated, “They both agreed to make a big stride in recovering their mutual trust.” Hope bloomed when the South Korean military promised to resume communication with the northern forces twice a day at 9:00am and 4:00pm, including giving details about illegal fishing in the Yellow Sea. Thereafter, there was a break in these anticipated modalities.

Global support and collaboration by the international community, especially the US, China and Japan, to revisit what was agreed upon back then, will go a long way to easing tensions in the Peninsula. This is against the backdrop that Korean reunification and inter-Korean relations must not be perceived as being at the behest of foreign influence and intervention, but rather emanating from the altruistic and pragmatic hopes of the Korean people themselves.

The Security Council must lead and not be a repository of gamesmanship and hegemonic footworks and aspirations. A case in point is what transpired at the Security Council’s closed door meeting last week. The US was advocating sanctions against individuals connected to the recent North Korean tactical guided missile launches and its programme and Russia and China raised the issue of the efficacy of sanctions and whether the intended purpose was being achieved. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zaho Lijian stated, “Facts have proven time and time again that blindly resorting to sanctions and pressure would only escalate the tension further rather than settle the (Korean) Peninsula issue. This meets no party’s interests.” In a joint statement on same, eight UN Security Council members said, “The launches demonstrate the regime’s determination to pursue weapons of mass destruction and ballistic programs at all cost, including at the expense of its own people.” These opposing positions do have efficacy, even merit and represent legitimate concerns, but it has resulted in a type of Mexican standoff which does not lend itself to facilitating genuine global collaborative efforts for a United Korean Peninsula. The present framework and environment for solution oriented discussions in the Security Council are simply not there, not working, not facilitatory, in the context of Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), in order to affirmatively address the world’s problems. What of their ultimate mandate for peace and security? The issue of enlisting global cooperation for the reunification of the Korean Peninsula must be triggered in a holistic way at the level of the Security Council and the United Nations in New York. They must lead and not be dictated to by herd interests and backward politics that are divisive and must be corralled by the common good, attainable through a United Korea.

In January 2022, North Korea engaged in the launching of several missiles, including a Nuclear Capable Hypersonic Glide Missile. In light of this, the Treaty of Tlatelolco, offers a solution. It founded the Organization for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), establishing Latin America and the Caribbean as a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. This roadmap can trigger action to achieve the universalisation of the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty which eliminates the production and use of nuclear weapons. Additionally, urgent attention must be given to adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) signed by 185 countries and ratified by 170. This Treaty prohibits nuclear weapon tests or explosions and its implementation must be zealously invoked by all global partners.

The Caribbean, as a zone of peace, can facilitate future, peaceful negotiations of the Korean Peninsula.

The economics of peace will support a culture of peace. The reopening of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, given the economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic will mutually benefit North and South Korea, providing a sustainable economic environment. Its undeniable efficacy will provide Korean companies with cheaper labour costs, bringing forex to North Korea and reforming its economy. It is the Peace Economy and as South Korean President Moon Jae-In has stated, “The Peace Economy would dismantle the last remaining Cold War regime on Earth and build a new order of peace and prosperity.”

An inspirational, historical incentive is the present celebration of 31 years of Germany’s Reunification, one not lost upon the politburo of South Korea, as a lesson learnt and a success achieved and admired. President Moon Jae-in had his Unification Minister Lee-in Young engage in a symbolic pilgrimage to Germany to examine and learn from the strategic mechanisms employed that triggered German unity, and it remains a telling statement that his government is committed to a unified Korean Peninsula. As much as the German reunification model is not an ideal match or panacea for Korean unity, it speaks to what is both possible and achievable in the Peninsula.

I wish to congratulate Mother Moon, the Universal Peace Federation, and Dr Yang, …

I thank you.

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