On Wednesday, October 18, the National Lawyers Guild International Committee organized a press conference at the Solidarity Center in New York City against U.S. threats of war in the Korean peninsula, especially following President Donald Trump’s threats from the United Nations platform to “destroy” North Korea.
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“The progressive legal community is united with activists on the ground working to end the war,” said Jackelyn Mariano, co-chair of the NLG International Committee, introducing and moderating the event.
Jeanne Mirer, co-chair of the NLG International Committee and president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), quoted the charter of the United Nations, noting that “all nations are required to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state or in any manner inconsistent with the Charter.”
She highlighted the United States’ refusal to abide by the Charter. “Saying at the United Nations that the United States means to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea is a threat, and it is illegal, and President Trump should be held to account for his illegal actions,” said Mirer. “The UN Charter is domestic law and everyone is required to uphold it. In terms of Korea, the United States has never complied with the terms of the 1953 armistice…the armistice called for the removal of foreign troops from the peninsula…But the United States still has thousands and thousands of troops and military bases there and is trying to build a large military base on Jeju island over the opposition of the population.”
“The National Lawyers Guild and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers unite with all the sentiments about the need for a permanent peace treaty on the Korean peninsula,” said Mirer.
Mirer also emphasized the United States’ own responsibility for nuclear non-proliferation, that all nations have a responsibility to eliminate nuclear weapons in the world. “By threatening to destroy North Korea, the U.S. is threatening not just to violate the Charter, but also genocide, crimes against humanity, and other violations of domestic and international law…We must unite all the peace-loving peoples of this country to stop this.”
Rev. Tong-Kyun Kim of the Least of These Church joined the press conference to note that “Trump’s pro-war rhetoric has heightened the danger of nuclear war on the Korean peninsula…The root cause of these ongoing tensions is the U.S. hostile policy against North Korea.”
Sara Flounders of the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC), a coalition of social justice, anti-war and anti-racist organizations, said that “We can never forget that five million Korean people died in the Korean war, 20 percent of the population, the country left in ashes, generations scarred by this war… This is of great concern to everyone in the world, using the United Nations platform to threaten the people of Korea, of Asia, of the world, with nuclear war.”
Bernadette Ellorin of the International League of People’s Struggles, a global anti-imperialist alliance of 300 groups in 40 countries, said that “the US government under Trump has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world…Trump’s saber-rattling against the DPRK must be seen in this context.”
Christian Cobb of the International Action Center, said that “Trump’s threats are a call for genocide…The U.S. has never…signed a peace treaty to end the Korean war.”
The organizers also distributed pieces written by Marjorie Cohn, former president of the NLG and deputy secretary-general of the IADL. In the question-and-answer period following the initial presentations, speakers discussed the need for mobilization, including rallies and actions during President Trump’s planned November 4 visit to Korea.
All Photos: Bud Korotzer/Desertpeace