Korean Armistice Anniversary Message delivered by ESCAP Executive Secretary, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, on behalf of UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon

Delivered by Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Six decades ago, the Armistice Agreement ended the Korean War with “its great toll of suffering and bloodshed.” I had a powerful reminder of the great loss of life when I visited the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in the Republic of Korea on 30 November 2011. The site is also a monument to the value of collective action based on universal principles.

Since its signing on 27 July 1953, the Agreement has served as a legal foundation to preserve peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, despite recurring tensions.

The Korean question, however, remains unresolved and a permanent peace regime remains a distant prospect. It is deeply regrettable that the situation on the Korean Peninsula remains fragile and volatile. Inter-Korean relations have remained deadlocked for far too long. This status quo is neither acceptable nor sustainable.

The pursuit of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has become an overriding concern of the international community. The danger of a new conflagration on the Peninsula, either by mistake or miscalculation, is all too real. While the Korean people on both sides of the Peninsula face the most immediate risks, this situation also presents a threat to regional and international peace.

The international community is firm and united in not accepting the DPRK as a nuclear-weapon State. There is strong international consensus on the need for verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The Six-Party Talks process remains a viable track to address contentious issues in a comprehensive manner. Its 2005 Joint Statement, which should be re-affirmed by the DPRK and all other participants, is a solid framework for addressing the issues through dialogue and negotiations. It must be emphasized that dialogue and negotiations have to be meaningful and credible.

I firmly believe that neither the nuclear question nor any other outstanding issues on the Peninsula can be resolved without trust, dialogue and cooperation between the two parties. Restarting credible dialogue and meaningful engagement should be the first step to overcome the current standoff towards a permanent resolution of the Korean conflict. In this context, I appreciate and support the trustpolitik policy espoused by President Park Geun-hye.

As Secretary-General, I am willing to help the parties to build that trust. I will continue mobilizing humanitarian assistance for children and other vulnerable people in the DPRK.

This sixtieth anniversary calls on all of us to ensure that the sacrifice of so many who fought in the war was not in vain and that the reunified Korean Peninsula will enjoy democracy, prosperity and human dignity for all, as well as a peace that will last for generations to come. The United Nations, for which the Korean conflict has been of special significance, will continue to be an active partner. I pledge our best efforts to realize this vision with fortitude, persistence, and a strong spirit of solidarity.