World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Statement on Korea

27 August 2004

WCC Executive Committee, Seoul, Korea, 24-27 August, 2004

We cry out to you from the depths of despair over the division of Korea, which is the victim
of a divided world. You came to this world as the servant of peace, you provided
love and peace. You commanded us to love each other. We rejoice in your promises and
recognize your blessings. You have given us signs of hope in the midst of despair.
(Extract from World Day of Prayer - the Reunification of Korea)

The Korean peninsula remains a flash point in the region. It has the potential to
ignite a major conflagration. At the end of the Cold War a number of significant
steps were taken to leave behind half a century of confrontation and hostilities.
These amongst others include the former President Kim Dae Jung's "Sunshine
Policy" of engagement to improve inter-Korean relations that led to the historic
inter-Korean summit and the 2000, 15th June Joint Declaration between North
and South Korea; and the October 21st 1996 agreed framework between the
United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, that provided a
basis for dialogue to pave the way for a more broad-based approach to resolve the
conflict. These positive developments received a setback as a result of the post-
September 11 events that have had profound implications for security and stability
throughout Northeast Asia. The US administration's inclusion of North Korea
(the DPRK) in an "axis of evil" further escalated tensions between the two countries,
making the situation in the peninsula volatile. Since then, for some two
years, the US and North Korea have been locked in a showdown over the North's
nuclear programme. North Korea became in 2003 the first country to withdraw
from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The multilateral process of Six Party Talks, comprising North and South Korea,
Russia, Japan, China and the US that began in August 2003 in Beijing, are now
in the third round. This initiative provides signs of hope. The parties have agreed
to work towards a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and most share the view that
North Korea's concern over its security must be given due consideration and
resolved.

The churches in Korea, in close collaboration with the World Council of Churches,
have played a pioneering role in initiating and supporting the discussions on
peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula and its people. An effective framework
for international ecumenical cooperation for this was put in place at an
International Consultation at Tozanso, Japan in 1984. This framework provided
an impetus to the reunification movement and was instrumental in bringing
church leaders from North and South Korea together in prayer, worship and sharing
of each other's concerns for peace and reconciliation.

In view of the historical role of the Korean churches in relation to the reunification
issue, coupled with the August 2003 initiative of the Six Party Talks to find
a peaceful resolution of the conflict, the CCIA Commission in its meeting of May
2004 decided to focus on peace and reunification of the Korean peninsula till the
next WCC Assembly at Porto Alegre in 2006.

The promotion and protection of human rights and human dignity are an integral
part of the mission of the churches. The ecumenical movement continues to
be concerned by reports of human rights violations in the DPRK and denial of
access to international human rights organizations.

The grave humanitarian crisis of hunger, chronic malnutrition and related diseases
facing the North Korean people are a challenge not only to the churches, but also
to the conscience of the entire international community. The churches and their
related agencies have addressed these immense needs of the people of North Korea
to prevent the humanitarian crisis from becoming a major catastrophe.

Giving thanks to God for the persistent struggle of the Korean people and the
witness of the Korean churches for peaceful reunification of the peninsula and its
people, the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in
Seoul, Korea, August 24-27, 2004:

- reaffirms the Policy Statement on the Peace and Reunification of Korea adopted
by the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, Moscow, 1989;

- expresses once again its solidarity, with deep appreciation for the courageous witness
and leadership of the National Council of Churches in Korea and its member
churches;

- reiterates its respect for the sovereignty of the Korean people to determine their
future;

- encourages and supports the implementation of the "Sunshine Policy" of engagement;
the June 2000 Summit between North and South Korea to promote
social, cultural and economic exchange programmes; the agreement between
South and North Korea on non-aggression, reconciliation, exchange and cooperation
of December 13, 1991; and facilitation of opportunities for family
reunion involving greater numbers of Koreans;

- calls on member churches in Korea as well as in other parts of the world to
mobilize support for the Six Party Talks being held in Beijing in order to reach
a formal peace treaty;

- urges the Government of North Korea to abandon all uranium enrichment and
plutonium extraction programmes and move towards a fully verifiable return
to a status of non-nuclear state party to the NPT;

- further urges the participants of the Six Party Talks to give due consideration to
the DPRK's concern for its security in order to resolve this conflict, including
assurances from the US not to take pre-emptive military action against the
DPRK nor, under any circumstances, to use nuclear weapons against the DPRK,
as a non-nuclear party to the NPT;

- appeals to the international community to call for lifting of sanctions against
the DPRK and for full restoration of humanitarian aid and assistance, including
food, to cope with the crisis of hunger and chronic malnutrition in the
country;

- requests the Government of the DPRK to ensure transparency in the distribution
of aid and provide access to all affected areas;

- asks the churches and the related agencies to continue their efforts to address
the humanitarian needs of the people of North Korea.