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Jun. 27  2022
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Anti-War, Peace, Human Rights

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has been entrusted by the people of South Korea with the duty to protect and advance the cause of human rights, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states, "recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world."

Source  :  Green Korea Report


As a national institution, we further have a responsibility and duty to protect the right to life and safety of citizens; protect the ideology and value of the South Korean Constitution, which promotes world peace and renounce wars of aggression.

We call attention to international public opinion that feels the war of aggression on Iraq, led by the United States and England, was not approved by the UN Security Council, and that this war is an inhumane act that can kill hundreds of thousands of people.

We are deeply concerned that world peace is threatened by the US invasion on Iraq, and may lead to endanger the lives of Koreans on the Korean peninsula. We would like to express our opinion to the government and the National Assembly as mandated by the National Human Rights Commission Act (Article 19, Clause 1 & Article 25, Clause 1) as follows:

1. UN Security Council Resolution passed in November 2002 does not expressly stipulate military invasion if Iraq fails to comply with disarmament of weapons of mass destruction, nor does it approve of US military action or interference related to "regime change." It is well known that the United Nations has been the highest coordinating body in the international community since World War II, and the United States has used UN resolutions to put pressure on other countries whenever it felt necessary. Hence, the South Korean National Human Rights Commission opposes this war that has begun without legal UN approval.

2. The United States maintains that civilian casualties will be minimized through the use of high-tech precision weapons. However, after indiscriminate US bombardment of Iraq, the number of civilian casualties has increased greatly. As full-scale ground combat begins in the near future, these numbers can only multiply. The NHRC opposes the further escalation of war that indiscriminately forces the sacrifices of the lives of Iraqi civilians.

3. Anti-war rallies are currently gathering momentum all around the world. In South Korea, 700 civic organizations have formed a coalition group called "Joint Committee for Peace not War" to formally express their anti-war position, and with each passing day the peace movement is gaining support. The NHRC urges the South Korean government and the National Assembly to listen carefully to the voices of people who demand peace.

4. The preamble of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea pledges to contribute to world peace and the mutual prosperity of humankind, and Article 5, Clause 1 states, "The Republic of Korea shall endeavor to maintain international peace and shall renounce all aggressive wars." Therefore, the NHRC recommends that the government and the National Assembly discreetly decide its policies related to the war on Iraq following the principles of anti-war, peace and human rights as stated in the Constitution.

5. As the history of humankind shows, peace without human rights and human rights without peace is a groundless illusion. The NHRC opposes the method initiated by the US to resolve human rights issues in Iraq, and hopes the Iraqi people will be able to solve their own problems in a peaceful and humanitarian way following the conventions of international law and international human rights institutions.

6. Since the 1991 Gulf War, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people have died of disease and hunger. On February 13, 1991, the US dropped bombs on an air raid shelter in Baghdad. Of the over 400 people killed in that attack, approximately 300 were children. In addition, during the Afghanistan war that was initiated as a retaliatory attack for 9.11, approximately 13,000 civilian lives were sacrificed. These figures illustrate that even with technological advances, modern warfare cannot avoid large-scale destruction of human lives. In spite of this, most countries around the world noticed the material gains of victor countries without paying attention to the devastation of defeated countries. The NHRC urges the government and National Assembly to assert its opinion to the international community so the victims of war can be protected in a humanitarian fashion.

7. The South Korean government and the National Assembly must take future national interests and humanitarian issues into consideration on the war on Iraq. The situation in Iraq can be directly linked to the issue of North Korea in the future, and action that is currently being decided can be an important yardstick when tensions are high on the Korean peninsula. The NHRC highly recommends that the government and the National Assembly approach the issue using principles of anti-war, peace, and human rights.

The NHRC submits the following opinions based on the 7 principles discussed above.

1. We oppose the war on Iraq that threatens the lives and safety of the Iraqi people.
2. We hope for a peaceful resolution of Iraqi socio-political issues, without military action.
3. We urge the South Korean government and the National Assembly to make efforts to safeguard the human rights of those sacrificed in the War against Iraq.
4. We recommend that the South Korean government and the National Assembly approach Iraq-related issues by applying the basic principles of anti-war, peace and human rights.
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