Statement of the 2018 United States Legal Delegation to Korea

The following statement was released by the U.S. legal delegation to Korea, including members of the National Lawyers Guild and Lawyers for Peace and Demilitarization in Korea, on May 17, 2018:

Following the meeting of the leaders of Korea which captured the imagination of the world and created hope for a real and lasting peace in the Korean peninsula, we as members of the legal community in the United States express our desire and support for the realization of peace in Korea and the self-determination of the Korean people.

We are members of Lawyers for Demilitarization and Peace in Korea and the National Lawyers Guild who have participated in meetings and consultations from May 13-17, 2018, with lawyers, activists, and scholars of peace and reconciliation in Korea. Our solidarity with the Korean people and our views on the policies of the United States, stem from our deep commitment to self-determination for all the peoples of the world. Members of the delegation have decades of experience in peace-building, conflict resolution, and human rights. Our members have experienced first-hand the horrors of war and recognize that the role of the United States must profoundly change to become a true participant in a democratic, international community.

In 1953 the parties to the Korean conflict, including the United States, reached an understanding to withdraw all foreign troops from Korea, to demilitarize the peninsula, and to reach a durable and lasting peace. Sadly, those goals have remained unrealized for the past sixty-five years. The courageous actions by President Moon Jae-In and Chairman Kim Jong-Un to cross the dividing line between the Koreas in order to overcome decades of hostility and mistrust, and to instead seek common ground, deserve the support of the international community and the United States. This is a historic moment and it must not be squandered.

We have been cautiously optimistic that President Trump’s stated willingness to engage in negotiations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) may lead to the United States becoming a true partner for peace. However, our optimism is tempered by the reality that the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from international accords such as the Paris climate treaty and the Iran nuclear accord,are actions that fail to build trust and confidence in the willingness of the United States to abide by its international obligations.

Just this week the latest military training exercises known as Max Thunder, involving over 100 warplanes, have once gain threatened peace and caused a suspension of the North-South talks. Why the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) would engage in such acts, whether offensive or defensive, at such a fragile time and after agreeing to not engage in hostile actions, is of grave concern. We call upon the United States to announce a full suspension of all such mass military exercises until after negotiations and as a show of good faith.

As the divided Korean people move towards reconciliation, we recognize our obligations as citizens of the United States to demand that the government that acts in our name depart from its past history in Korea and support a full and final peace in Korea.

Nuclear weapons threaten all the peoples of the world. We support all efforts to curtail the spread and possession of nuclear weapons, including by the DPRK and the United States.

Furthermore, we call upon the United States to not establish conditions for negotiation which are unrealistic and which will be likely to lead to failure to reach an agreement. Recent statements by national security advisor John Bolton that the DPRK must turn over its citizens working on nuclear issues to the United States and achieve full denuclearization before the United States takes any concrete steps to end hostilities and sanctions are unrealistic and instead appear designed to set up the negotiations for failure.

We call upon the United States to:
1. Enter a full unconditional peace treaty to end the Korean war and formalize diplomatic relations with the DPRK.

2. Set up a realistic time-frame to implement the Armistice’s agreement to remove foreign troops from Korea.

3. Suspend all mass military exercises for the next twelve months to allow talks to proceed in a non-hostile atmosphere.

4. Support the will and self-determination of the Korean people as evidenced by the October 2007 and recent April 2018 agreements.

5. Take steps towards a global elimination of nuclear weapons, including negotiation of a full and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Eric Sirotkin – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Susana De Leon – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Bruce D. Nestor – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Thane Tienson – Portland, Oregon
Philip Fornaci – Washington DC
Daniel McGee – New York City, New York

March 17, 2018

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