<Opening Remarks>

SCR 1325 and Peace for Sustainable Development  
Cora Weiss

 

Good afternoon and thank you Mission of South Korea for hosting this wonderful opportunity to link women with peace and sustainable development in the Korean Peninsula. Thank you Representative Young-Hee Choi. And thank you everyone for being and doing.

We used to say, No Women, No Peace. But we have learned from painful experiences, that not all women are necessarily peaceful. It takes more than ovaries to qualify women for the peace table.  We need women who care, who want to prevent violence and want to resolve violent conflict in non violent ways. We need women who understand the relationship between protecting and preserving the earth and the oceans, sustainable development, in order to prevent climate change, erosion, droughts and floods and other ecological problems all of which lend themselves to environmental refugees and violence. 

I care about preventing further conflict between North and South Korea and I would like to offer a few creative suggestions for your consideration. I have asked some of the men who are ambassadors to the Security Council if there is any creative thinking going on beyond sanctions among the diplomats who are supposed to resolve the issues.  Sadly, there isn’t.

I think we would all agree that it is way past time to formally end the war between North and South Korea. We need a peace agreement.  Res 1325, was drafted by women in civil society and unanimously adopted by the SC and is international law. Under Article 25 of the UN Charter, all  member states agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. 1325 calls for women to be at all peacemaking tables. We don’t ask men to leave, we ask them to move over and make room for women. For peace loving women. In light of the recent news that North Korea may be digging a tunnel for a possible nuclear test, you may think this will all sound like an impossible dream. But I am counting on civil society, not governments, and I believe nothing happens unless first a dream.

We all know that there is a Law of the Sea Treaty, which defines rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the seas. Interestingly, it seems that The DPRK and the US have more in common than in conflict. We have both signed the Treaty but neither of us has ratified it.

In 1963, Pope John wrote an Encyclical, which established a Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity and Liberty. He addressed it to all humanity, not just to Catholics. He said that conflicts should not be resolved by resort to arms, but by negotiation. The document is about human rights and about greater relations among nations. It is called Pacem in Terris. Peace on Earth.

I think it’s time for a Pacem in Maris. Peace on the Seas. What if women, members of Parliaments, members of civil society organizations, environmentalists, peace educators, human rights activists, survivors of wars and abuses, mere mortal women, from So Korea, North Korea, and they could invite women from the US, Japan, China, Russia, and charter a boat to go out to sea. They would live together, eat together and talk together. If you are out at sea on a boat your only option is to bond, to support each other, to work together. The agreement would be that within 10 days they would return with a Peace on the Sea, Pacem in Maris, document. They would declare an end to the war. It would be a role model that would embarrass the governments into following suit. We don’t want to embarrass anyone, perhaps it would serve as inspiration.

During the cold war when Moscow and Washington wouldn’t talk to each other, Russian and American women were invited to Greece and Mme. Margarita Papandreou chartered a boat and we joined with Greek women for a wonderful sail. We composed a Declaration calling on the 2 heads of state to hold a Meaningful Summit. We became known as Women for Meaningful Summits.

Pacem in Maris would denounce anything to do with nuclear weapons from uranium mining and development to misuse of national budgets for investment in military technology including nuclear weapons. It would reject the construction of a military base on Jeju island. If our leaders can call for support for the people who are protesting decades of dictatorial rule in the Middle East, why can’t we call for support for the people of Gangjeong village who have a case based on protecting the natural environment and coastal waters.

Military bases do not make for peaceful safe environments for women and girls. Ask the women of Vieques, off the coast of Puerto Rico, or the women from Okinawa. They have come together in a creative initiative started by women peace educators. Despite not speaking each other’s language they have found they have more in common than conflict. Their lands are poisoned, their fish are dying from toxic poison from military activities, their women are raped and abused, and their communities are no longer safe for raising children. The women of Jeju island could join the women from Okinawa and Vieques. Islands should build bridges, not bases.

Pacem in Maris would prevent military ships from sailing by, even 100 miles away; would prevent  naval bases from being built, would encourage education, peace education  on board Peace Boat where people from the parties in conflict would spend a semester, or a summer vacation. Pacem in Maris would declare an end to the war for the people. A People’s peace treaty.

The opportunity that this gathering today provides is to engage in creative thinking. The US ambassador to So Korea seems like a remarkable woman. She is fluent in Korean, she was a Peace Corps volunteer, she has experience in ecology and terrestrial conservation in the Bureau of Oceans and she knows about Outward Bound…that’s a fantastic experience  for learning to live with nature….and she’s a woman. She should be invited to engage in conversations on Peace Boat with people from the 6 countries party to the talks.

 

The world cannot afford to spend over a trillion dollars a year on war. We should never be willing to send our sons and daughters to kill and be killed. We know too much about preventing war, about alternatives to violence to ignore those lessons. The world has gotten much smaller with the advance of technology. Our grandson lives on a small island off the coast of Boston and he and his classmates, all 17 years old, took off last night for Ireland for a week; children in a rural community on Long Island are taking Mandarin lessons via computer with a teacher in Beijing; foreign students are flooding our colleges, many paying full tuition. President Obama has asked for 100,000 American students to go to China to study. Those all represent ways to get to know each other, not ways to kill each other.

The UN was invented to prevent the scourge of war. The damage of war, craters, chemical poisons, burned crops, destroyed forests, polluted waters is anathema to sustainable development. You can’t do both. Either you preserve your environment or you destroy it. The women who drafted SC Res 1325 were tired of war, fed up with fighting, and decided they didn’t want to be left out of the decision making any more.  Things are not working out too well under the current arrangement. We have nothing to lose by giving women  equal space at the decision making tables and at all levels of governance. We can’t afford to lose any more time.

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