On the Possibility of Peace on the Korean Peninsula

In Harvard International Magazine, Korea’s Foreign Minister and candidate for the next Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon:

Korea, as a matter of course, has been both a product and a proponent of multilateralism. Indeed, ever since its participation in the 1994 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as Asian Partner for Cooperation, the Republic of Korea (ROK) has been consistently striving to recreate the CSCE and its successor OSCE experience on the Korean peninsula. Late last year, while attending the OSCE Ministerial Council in Ljubljana, Slovenia, I emphasized the importance of strengthening consultation and cooperation with the OSCE. In recognizing the value of multilateralism, the ROK hopes to create a more stable and just peace with a long-standing outcome will be in accordance with international norms.

In addition to learning lessons from the OSCE model, greater attention should be given to the contribution that the United Nations, the global forum for multilateralism, can make toward promoting peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula. From its birth under the auspices of the United Nations, the Republic of Korea has been a prime beneficiary and proponent of multilateralism. Founded in the same year as the United Nations, the Republic of Korea saw the inauguration of its first government following UN-sponsored elections. During the Korean War that lasted from 1950 to 1953, the United Nations lived up to the first test of its commitment to collective security by mobilizing the freedom-loving countries of the world to fight alongside ROK forces. The post-war reconstruction and the ensuing decades of rapid economic development of the country were also generously assisted by the UN system and other multilateral bodies. On a similar note, the ideals of human rights and democracy that the United Nations promotes were instrumental in sustaining and inspiring the Korean people during their struggle for democratization under successive authoritarian regimes.