|Statement on Korean Reunification by the World Council of Churches|
The World Council of Churches met for their 10th Assembly this November, 2013 in Busan, South Korea and adopted the following position on Peace and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula.
World Council of Churches Statement on Peace and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula
To download as a pdf - WCC Statement on Peace and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula
We, the delegates of the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) meeting in Busan from 30 October to 8 November 2013, bear witness to the suffering of the men, women and children of the one Korean people through decades of violence caused by war and hostility that have left them divided into two nations.
Division, war and the suffering contradict God’s will for the fullness of life. Therefore, we call upon the churches of the world, and upon those holding social, economic, political and governmental power, to pursue a lasting and sustainable peace with justice that will reunify and reconcile the people of Korea.
The central theme of our assembly is a simple prayer, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.” It is our prayer that the vision and dream of all Koreans, their common aspiration for healing, reconciliation, peace and reunification may be fulfilled.
The present situation in the Korean peninsula prompts us to a renewed engagement in efforts to work for peace and justice throughout the region and for the reunification of a divided Korea. Despite many positive developments in the world during the post-Cold War era, the North East Asia region still contains the world’s heaviest concentration of military and security threats. Four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, who are also recognized nuclear weapons states, have military bases in this region. There are even signs of an emerging “new Cold War”, as the geopolitical map of North East Asia shows new shifts in the balance of power. New tensions are arising with the intensified political, economic and military presence of the United States in the region; and three other “power poles”, China, Japan and Russia, also are active in this region.
The peace we envision is a condition of justice embracing the whole of life and restoring harmony among neighbours. We are convinced that it is the right time to begin a new process towards a comprehensive peace treaty that will replace the 1953 Armistice Agreement and secure just and peaceful relations among nations in the region while normalizing relations between North and South, and facilitating Korean reunification.
Our Faith Commitment to Peace with Justice
As a global body of believers in Jesus Christ, we confess our sins in having given in to the powers and principalities of the world in their wars and military conflicts full of hate and enmity, armed with nuclear arsenals and weapons of mass destruction targeting humanity and the whole of God’s creation. Also we lament our failure to adequately acknowledge the Korean people’s long suffering, caused by external powers fighting for colonial expansion and military hegemony.
We hereby join the Christians in Korea in their confession of faith in Jesus Christ, who came to this world as our Peace (Ephesians 2:13-19); who suffered, died upon the Cross, was buried, and rose again to reconcile humanity to God, to overcome divisions and conflicts, and to liberate all people and make them one (Acts 10:36-40); who, as our Messiah, will bring about a new Heaven and new Earth (Rev.21-22).
Faith and Hope in Action
Ever since its First Assembly in 1948 and the Korean conflict that followed, the WCC has felt the pain of Korea’s division and to some degree has found it reflected in tensions among members and partners. We are well aware of the challenges and obstacles on the pathways to peace. We recognize the painstaking effort of Christians in Korea, both North and South, and recall the continued and sustained efforts of the WCC and its ecumenical partners in accompanying the people of the Korean peninsula.
In the midst of an extremely difficult situation, the Korean churches’ ecumenical witnesses and prayers have been pivotal. Such faith in action led them to new horizons of hope with prayers. The Tozanso consultation, organized by the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) in 1984, was held at a time when it was difficult for the Korean churches to openly discuss the issue of Korean reunification. The Tozanso consultation was the first attempt by the WCC to bring Christians from a wide spectrum of member churches worldwide together with Christians from Korea, to look at some of the issues raised by the division of the Korean peninsula. The WCC initiative helped to address the issues of the division of Korea and Korean reunification as means to strengthen the Korean people’s struggle for peace with justice.
We recognize the value of ecumenical engagement in advocacy initiated by the WCC addressing peace and reconciliation as well as denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Those initiatives provide avenues for North and South Korean church leaders as well as church and ecumenical partners from Asia, North America and Europe to come together within the setting of a common platform. The Ecumenical Forum on Peace, Reconciliation and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula, coordinated and facilitated by the WCC/CCIA with the participation of churches in Asia, Europe and North America in addition the churches in South Korea and the Korean Christian Federation in North Korea has provided additional and frequent opportunities for mutual dialogue and interactions on peace and reunification. Although progress has been made at various levels, there is still a long way to go to accomplish the mission of peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula.
We are conscious of the fact that the prevailing geo-political context of the Korean peninsula warrants that the ecumenical movement develop new ways of accompaniment and engagement. As the WCC has been accompanying the churches and people in the Korean peninsula in their struggle to achieve peace with justice and reconciliation, and reunification of the divided Korean peninsula, it is imperative that every effort continue to be taken in providing common platforms for both North and South Korean churches to meet together, with a particular focus on younger generations.
The Way towards Healing, Reconciliation and Peace
During the sixty long years since combat ceased in the Korean War, through the Armistice Agreement of July 27, 1953, the two Koreas, the USA and China have nevertheless continued in a technical state of war with defensive military build-ups including the stockpiling of nuclear weapons. The current situation proves the urgent need for a peace treaty to replace the 1953 Armistice Agreement.
Fresh and decisive action is required to enact a peace treaty. A process towards a peace treaty is crucial for the Korean peninsula and in the entire North East Asia region, as well as contributing to the process of building a nuclear weapon-free peace zone in this region. The peace treaty must be discussed and agreed by the parties to the Armistice Agreement and the countries related to the Armistice Agreement. We believe that a declaration of the end of the Korean War shared by stakeholders will accelerate the agreement’s conclusion and contribute to mutual trust and confidence-building among them. Participants in the Six-Party Talks (SPT) previously promised to hold peace forums in order to convert the prevailing armistice system into a concrete peace system. We strongly urge South and North Korea, the USA and China to ensure the keeping of this promise. At the same time, the USA and Japan should stop imposing blockades and sanctions against the North, while China should act in its facilitator’s role in order to resume dialogues, including the Six-Party Talks.
Taking into consideration the continuing humanitarian crisis in the North, we urge the international community to initiate humanitarian support to the people while cooperating with the North in projects for its sustainable development. It has become clear that economic sanctions serve primarily as instruments for punishing the people of a country, especially the poor in any society. Therefore, we question the ethical principles as well as the strategic effectiveness of economic sanctions imposed on North Korea. It is in this context that we raise concern about the UN Security Council Resolutions against North Korea. Opportunities for economic exchanges between the North and other countries in the world must be resumed. This will open new avenues for effective economic collaboration. Above all, this will facilitate active engagement through dialogue to normalize relations. The UN should also initiate efforts for peace-building across the Korean peninsula and lift the existing economic and financial sanctions.
The way forward - Recommendations
We believe that peace-building in a globalized and interdependent world is a shared responsibility of sovereign states, the United Nations and civil society groups including the churches. Affirming the Christian calling to be peacemakers and responding to the faith witness of the Korean churches, which have proclaimed the Jubilee among the Korean people, the member churches of the WCC, gathered in Busan, Republic of Korea for the WCC 10th Assembly from 30 October to 8 November 2013, together affirm the following:
1. Realizing that as we pray with and for the peoples of Korea the churches and ecumenical partners have a specific responsibility toward working together for peace and reconciliation in the Korean peninsula with renewed energy, in close partnership and transparent relationships with each other and with the churches and Christians in both North and South of Korea, the National Council of Churches in Korea and the Korean Christian Federation. We, therefore, commit ourselves to:
2. Furthermore, we commit ourselves to take actions to: