The two Koreas open liaison office as international conference connects peace, nuclear disarmament and sustainable development

North and South Korea establish a joint liaison office and agree to demilitarization steps ahead of upcoming Pyongyang Summit.

International aid conference emphasises importance of peace and nuclear disarmament.

PNND Korea meets to discuss parliamentary action.

North and South Korea opened a liaison office in Gaeseong and agreed to some demilitarization measures yesterday, at the same time as an international conference in Seoul on development aid highlighted the connections between peace, nuclear disarmament and sustainable development, and gave overwhelming support to the Korean peace and denuclearization process.

Speakers at the 12th Seoul ODA International Conference

‘Imagine if nuclear weapons were used on the Korean Peninsula, either by the DPRK or the United States. The devastation to humans, infrastructure and the environment would likely be catastrophic even if it were only one or two nukes detonated,’ said Alyn Ware, keynote speaker at the 12th Seoul International Conference on Overseas Development Aid, which was cohosted by the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

‘More likely if nuclear war erupts today, it would not be one or two bombs used but tens, hundreds or even thousands of them, as they are deployed under policies of massive retaliation, not for single battlefield use,’ said Mr Ware, who is the Global Coordinator for Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND).

Alyn Ware just before giving the keynote speech at the conference

‘Recent computer studies demonstrate that the use of about 50 nuclear weapons – less than 1% of the global stockpile - could cause catastrophic consequences to the climate causing global famine and unprecedented economic loss rendering the SDGs not only unobtainable but irrelevant, as human survival itself would be at stake. So we can probably agree that the use of nuclear weapons is not conducive to ODA and the SDGs.’

‘As for the possession of nuclear weapons to deter attack, that runs the risk of nuclear war occuring by mishap, malfunction, miscalculation or malice. And the $100 billion global nuclear weapons budget to maintain nuclear weapons is sorely need to fund sustainable development,’ said Mr Ware. ‘This makes peace and nuclear disarmament integral to achieving the SDGs. And it is why international support is growing for the campaign to Move the Nuclear Weapons Money to sustainable development.’ (Click here for Mr Ware's full speech)

The conference was opened by CHO Hyun, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, and presided over by LEE Mikyung, President of KOICA and former PNND Co-President. Jeffrey Sachs, Special adviser on SDGS to the UN Secretary-General, was one of the other international speakers.

'Peace is one of the five key principles - the five Ps - of the Sustainable Development Goals,' said LEE Mikyung in her opening remarks, 'the other four being economic Prosperity, protecting the Planet, putting People at the centre of policy, and ensuring inclusion and  Partnership of all stakeholders.'

'In the case of Korea, peace is paramount,' said Ms LEE. 'The Korean Peninsula now stands at a turning point. The 70-year-old fear rooted in national division is being transformed into hope for peace. The way toward peace may not be smooth for the two Koreas, but I am confident that the power of Koreans that has led us on the path of economic growth and democracy will help us overcome the agony of division.' (Click here for full speech of LEE Mikyung).

Following the conference, PNND Korea held a meeting in the National Assembly where Mr Ware updated parliamentarians on the Parliamentary Action Plan for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, and discussed the Korean peace and denuclearization process, amd ways in which PNND and parliamentarians around the world can support.

There appears to be commitment from both North and South Korea make this process work,’ said Mr Ware. ‘The opening of the new liaison office and the demilitarization steps announced yesterday are amongst the goodwill measures taken so far. There are hopes that the next Inter-Korean Summit which takes place on September 18-20 will continue with additional practical confidence-building measures.'

'However, the parallel US/DPRK process is vital to success, and there is uncertainty about how this will progress. International support for the peace process is therefore very necessary.’

Mr Ware also travelled to Tokyo to meet with PNND Japan leaders Keisuke Suzuki (LDP) and Soichi Kondo (DPJ) to discuss how to build bi-partisan support in Japan for the Korean peace process and for the wider aim of achieving a North East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. A joint appeal of PNND Japan and PNND Korea in this regard is being discussed and finalized.  

Alyn Ware with LEE Mikyung and PNND Korea members