“A new framework for negotiation for peace and unification of the Korean peninsula is the need of the hour…especially in the context that the armistice agreement declared 60 years ago lost its effect,” said Dr. Lee Jae-joung, former minister of the Ministry of Unification of the Republic of Korea at an international consultation on Asian peace and security being held in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, 3 to 6 June.
The international ecumenical consultation, “Asia’s Human Security Challenges: Towards Peace with Justice in North East Asia” was organized by the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Christian Conference of Asia as an opportunity to reflect on the theme of the upcoming WCC 10th assembly which is being held in Busan, Republic of Korea 30 October to 8 November this year.
The consultation allowed the participants to explore the theme of the assembly “God of life, lead us to justice and peace” within the Asian context and with a specific focus on the situation on the Korean peninsula.
“The armistice agreement never brought peace in the Korean peninsula” Lee who was unification minister from 2006-2008 said. “There were constant violent conflicts at the truce line, as well as military infiltrations in the past years which affect peace and security.” Lee’s presentation was titled “From the Armistice Agreement to Peace Treaty in Korea.
“The international ecumenical community has to perform the important task of mobilizing the international community to ensure lasting peace in the divided country of Korea,” he added.
In a presentation on “Resumption of the Six Party Talks or Third Nuclear Test, the Future Prospects for US- North Korea Relations,” Prof. Sachio Nakato of Ritsumeikan University in Japan said, “The framework of the six-party talks should play a key role. The U.S focuses more on managing the North Korean nuclear issues rather than solving the problems through the framework of the six-party talks.”
During a biblical and theological reflection on the Korean situation the general secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Korea, Rev. Dr Hong Jung Lee, said, “Healing and reconciliation sustain the integration between justice and peace and their coexistence for life. Healing and reconciliation are both the spirituality and the strategy of God’s salvation and liberation and the way of witnessing the wholeness of the Gospel at all dimensions. In today’s complex situation of Korean peninsula, God’s liberation will show the way of sustaining peace and justice in the region.”
The consultation has also been addressing various other Asian issues threatening peace and security in the region.
“The increase in defence spending has now become a wider Asian phenomenon,” said Dr Mathews George Chunakara, director of the CCIA in a thematic address. “A variety of factors explains the new wave of increased military budgets in Asian countries.”.
“The increasing arms build-up in several Asian countries makes this region one of the fastest-growing regions for defence spending in the world, and military spending in Asia for the first time in history overtook that of the European members of NATO,” he said.
“Terrorism and counter-terrorism in South Asia are taking the lives of hundreds of people in South Asia every week. The drone strikes carried out by the U.S military in Pakistan have killed thousands of people,” stated Bishop Samuel Azariah, moderator of the Church of Pakistan and member of the WCC Central Committee and Executive Committee. “The nuclear arms race in South Asia and the ongoing territorial disputes between India and Pakistan pose a perennial problem for peace and security in South Asia.”
In a presentation on peace and security in South East Asia, Rev. Rex R. B. Reyes, Jr, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, said that, “through the implementation of the neoliberal policies of globalization, the opening up of more mountains for mining and logging and the shores for mineral extractions, more lands are being converted as mining fields of multinational companies in the Philippines.”
The consultation is being attended by fifty participants from Asia, Europe and North America representing churches, ecumenical councils, specialized ministries, peace activists and academia.