Lift sanctions, save lives. Lift sanctions, build peace.

The text "lift sanctions save lives Korea peace now" is overlaid on an image of women protesting for peace.
Credit: Courtesy of Korea Peace Now

God of wonder,
Comfort those who have been suffering from the division by foreign powers for over 70 years.
We ask you to restore the broken Korean Peninsula.
—from Prayer for the End to the Korean War and Peace on the Korean Peninsula by Dr. Un Sunn Lee

2020 marks 70 years since the start of the Korean War in June 1950. While it no longer consists of active fighting, hostilities remain high, resulting in extreme militarization on the Korean Peninsula. These decades of division keep families painfully separated, prevent the most vulnerable from accessing humanitarian relief, and are a barrier to God’s peace in the world.

Canada has enacted unilateral sanctions against North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK). In the context of COVID-19, these sanctions halt the delivery of much needed humanitarian aid, affecting especially women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Even when granted exemptions, humanitarian agencies experience continuing delays.

Lifting Canada’s sanctions against the DPRK would save lives. It would also advance diplomacy and engagement with North Korea, which is vital to ending the decades of hostility and bringing lasting peace to the Korean Peninsula.

In this 70th year of war, add your voice to those urging Canada to demonstrate global leadership: Lift sanctions, save lives. Lift sanctions, build peace.

Take Action

The United Church is part of Korea Peace Now! Women Mobilizing to End the War, a global coalition of women’s peace organizations calling on the United States, North Korea, South Korea, and China to end the Korean War, sign a peace agreement, and include women in the peace processes. Join the United Church in this growing movement of individuals and organizations working for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

  1. Pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula by joining the World Council of Churches' global prayer campaign A Light of Peace (March 1 to August 15, 2020). Resources are available from the World Council of Churches in English and the National Council of Churches in Korea in both Korean and English.   
  2. Send a message to Hon. François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Karina Gould, Minister of International Development; and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau using this form available from Korea Peace Now. Let our elected officials know you want Canada to
    • lift all unilateral Canada sanctions against the DPRK and support efforts towards a Korean peace treaty
    • ensure that women’s organizations are part of the process
    Personalize your email message for greater impact.
  3. Share the texts below and the campaign graphics from Korea Peace Now on social media.
    On Twitter:

    • Be part of ending a 70-year conflict. Send your message today to Canadian government decision makers calling on them to #LiftSanctionsSaveLives, #LiftSanctionsBuildPeace. #UCCan #KoreaPeaceNow
    • In this the 70th year since the Korean War began, Canada can demonstrate global leadership: Lift sanctions, save lives. #LiftSanctionsSaveLives, #LiftSanctionsBuildPeace. #UCCan #KoreaPeaceNow
    • Canada can be part of the conversation on achieving Korean peace by easing humanitarian aid, and ensuring women are part of the peace process. Send your message to Canadian decision-makers. #UCCan #KoreaPeaceNow #LiftSanctionsSaveLives #LiftSanctionsBuildPeace
    • Tag @UnitedChurchCda, @KoreaPeaceNow@CanadianPM@FP_Champagne, @karinagould.

    On Facebook:

  4. Host a virtual letter-writing party. Encourage friends, family, and colleagues to show their support for lasting peace in Korea by writing to key decision-makers (see number 2, above). You may wish to use the form available from Korea Peace Now.

  5. Learn more about the United Church’s recent work for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

    • Read the May 2020 letter sent to Minister Champagne urging the Canadian government to ensure that humanitarian assistance is not impeded by economic and political sanctions during the global response to COVID-19.
    • Reflect on the global prayers and stories shared through A Light of Peace Prayer Campaign. From March 1 to August 15, 2020 the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) will publish 70 prayers and stories to represent the 70 years since the outbreak of the Korean War. These short stories and prayers lift up the hope for ending the war and building a permanent peace system on the Korean Peninsula. Prayers can be found on the NCCK’s website and are available in Korean and English (click on the piece you would like to read and you will see the Korean text posted first and an English translation following it).
    • Read Divided by War, a tale of two Korean brothers forced into the military on different sides during the Korean War by United Church minister Kyongja (Kay) Cho.

Background

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus preached to the crowds and taught them that “blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9). Throughout his ministry, Jesus reminded people of the need to pursue peace. The United Church’s A Song of Faith reflects that:

Jesus announced the coming of God’s reign—
a commonwealth not of domination
but of peace, justice, and reconciliation.

As disciples of Jesus, the people of the United Church can take action locally to move towards peace in Korea. We can join with partners in Korea—and the global ecumenical family—in a continued commitment to promote engagement and dialogue, challenge sanctions, work toward a peace treaty to end the Korean War, and strengthen the global movement to build peace, not conflict.

The United Church of Canada has engaged with the people of Korea for close to 120 years, supporting their desire for health, education, training, independence, democratization, and human rights. Today, the church continues to work with partners in efforts for reconciliation and reunification between North and South Korea.

Key Facts

  • Canada began diplomatic relations with North Korea 18 years ago, but engagement has been very limited since 2010. Greater communication and engagement with North Korea can be a vehicle to help address human rights concerns.
  • Sanctions have had little political impact; in fact, they increase harm by limiting women's and children’s access to medicine and food.
  • Studies have shown that the participation of civil society groups (including women’s organizations) makes a peace agreement 64 per cent less likely to fail. When women participate in peace processes, the resulting agreements are 35 percent more likely to last at least 15 years.

Send your letters and e-mails to:

The Hon. François-Philippe Champagne
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Email: Francois-Philippe.Champagne@international.gc.ca

The Hon.Karina Gould
Minister of International Development
E-mail: Karina.Gould@international.gc.ca

Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
E-mail: justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca

Send copies of your letters and e-mails to:

Christie Neufeldt
Program Coordinator, Public Witness
cneufeldt@united-church.ca
416-231-7680 x4078
1-800-268-3781 x4078

For more information, contact:

Patti Talbot
Team Leader Church in Partnership
ptalbot@united-church.ca
416-231-7680 x4018
1-800-268-3781 x4018