By Doug Hostetter
UN Representative, Pax Christi International
Co-Chair Planning Committee, Global Peace Forum on Korea
Global Peace Forum Korea
The second Global Peace Forum on Korea, held at Columbia University in New York City on Saturday, September 28th 2019. The forum brought together for a day of formal and informal discussion over a hundred scholars, religious leaders, and peace activists from the US, Russia, Canada and Vietnam with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) UN diplomats, and Members of the National Assembly (and numerous civil society activist) from the Republic of Korea (South Korea). The theme this year was “Making Connections: Global Challenges, Korea and Peaceful Coexistence.” The meeting opened with a challenge from President Jimmy Carter. “Thank you for coming together to build the international relationships and support that are necessary to complete this process and fulfill the vision and promise of the Singapore Summit for a ‘new era of peace and a peaceful land’ in Korea.”
Human relationships are the foundation of peacebuilding. The challenge in building relationships between Americans and Koreans from both the North and South is formidable. North and South Korea do not have diplomatic relations. Even phone, mail or email connections between the two Koreas is prohibited. The US also does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea and North Korea is one of the countries whose citizens are prohibited from traveling to the US, and a US travel ban makes it illegal for any American to travel to North Korea without a “Special Validation Passport.” The travel ban has eliminated all tourism, academic and cultural travel by American to North Korea, although Quakers, Mennonites and a few other non-government organizations have occasionally been allowed to travel to North Korea for small scale humanitarian efforts. With sanctions and travel restrictions, few Americans, South Koreans or other people of the world have ever met a North Korean in person. The Global Peace Forum on Korea was organized to remediate that problem, at least for the participants of the Forum. ”Read more here”.