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Intervention of Professor Sang Woo Lim at the UPF Switzerland Conference in Geneva on 20 June 2023

Neutrality and Self-determination of the two Koreas for Peace in Northeast Asia - A Proposal for INNK’s Program

by Professor Sang Woo Lim, Acting Secretary General, International Network for Neutral Korea (INNK).

We have the conviction that the way to overcome, once and for all, the antagonistic confrontation on the Korean Peninsula lies in the permanent neutrality of the two Koreas. Once achieved, neutrality will guarantee both states’ security and prosperity, and the true independence of self-determination and the eventual reunification of the Korean people can be attained. We also believe that this neutral buffer zone of the Korean Peninsula will set the stage for peace in Northeast Asia.

1. Permanent Neutrality and the Confederation of Korean States

a) South Korea and North Korea should simultaneously declare to the world that they are permanently neutral as independent countries with the right to self-determination.

b) To insure and to sustain their neutrality, the two Koreas, each as an autonomous state, should form a ‘Confederation of Korean States,’ a similar confederacy to the European Union. This will serve as an essential premise for reunification and the ‘one-nation, two-state system’ principle will be maintained until reunification.

c) The Confederation is responsible for maintaining neutrality, economic exchanges, and establishing conditions for reunification. The autonomous governments of both states are bound in this respect by the resolutions of the Confederation.

2. The Principle of Neutrality First, Unification Next

a) With the ‘one nation, two states’ principle, the 'neutrality first, then unification' principle should also be observed.

b) The reason for these two principles is that Koreans must solve the various obstacles and problems before they come together for reunification. They need to secure the full sovereignty of both states and eliminate the disparities between South and North Korea. Moreover, they have to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, withdraw foreign forces from the peninsula, and so on.

c) Creating the conditions for reconciliation requires considerable time and effort. The premise of reunification can only be realized if the neutrality of both States is reached first.

3. Rights and Duties as a Neutral Country

a) The rights and obligations of neutral Korea can follow example of Switzerland, Austria and other neutral countries.

b) Neutrality includes, among other things, the principles of non-aggression to other countries and absence of military alliance, of invasion by other countries, of foreign military presence and bases, and possession of minimum national defense capabilities.

c) In the case of foreign aggression, it responds by self-defense based on international guarantees.

4. Peace Treaty of the Korean Peninsula as Peace Making Solution

a) The Korean War has been in a state of a cease-fire since 1953. Peace on the Korean Peninsula can only be achieved when a ‘Peace Treaty on the Korean Peninsula' is signed by a collective agreement among the four major belligerents in the War. These include South Korea, North Korea, the United States, and China.

b) The Treaty should include the declaration of the finalization of war and non-aggression on the Korean Peninsula from outside and inside, so that the Peninsula should work as a buffer zone that ensures peace between continental and maritime powers.

c) The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can only be addressed through the self-determined sovereignty of South and North Korea. Only then will peace be achieved in Northeast Asia.

d) The above attributes of a peace plan in the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia should be negotiated and resolved at the same peace table, although the process of negotiations for the treaty might require a prolonged period of time. And this should include the completion of the war, the recognition of self-determining sovereignty, non-aggression, the procedure for the withdrawal of foreign forces, and the procedure for the region’s denuclearization.

5. Korea Economic Community and Northeast Asia Free Economic Zone

a) South and North Korea will seek shared prosperity by building an economic community like the European Economic Community or the European Union under the confederal system. Improving the economy will enhance human rights in South Korea and in North Korea.

b) The next step is establishing the ‘Northeast Asia Free Economic Zone’ to attract worldwide free trade and investment, to promote economic development in the region, to improve the quality of life of the people of Northeast Asia, and, in so doing, to set an example for world peace.

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