Negotiation as Prevention of Violent Conflict. The Role of the Multilateral Negotiation Efforts in the Korean Conflict

Seminar Paper, 2014
18 Pages, Grade: 2





3.1.1 The struggle about the absolute power
3.1.2 North Korea`s nuclear programme
3.2.1 North Korea, China and Russia
3.2.2 South Korea, USA and Japan

4.3.1 The parties and their interests
4.3.2 Outcomes
4.3.3 North Korea’s strategy within six-party talks



1. Introduction

At the end of the Cold War, North Korea changed its military interventions into an approach to negotiations in order to use diplomatic talks to advance its political and propaganda aims. Since then there has been a long period of mistrust and provoca- tion between the involved countries, notably North and South Korea, the USA, China and Japan.

After the nuclear weapons test in North Korea in 2006 it has become even more important to rethink the security policy concept of the whole region. The most important way to prevent an outbreak of the “cold war” to a “hot war” is to keep the negotiation process going on.

To find out the main interests of the parties and negotiate between them, China initiated the so-called Six-party talks, which have started in 2003 and since then had to cope with several difficulties. They aim to find a peaceful resolution to the security concerns of the participating states. The most important issue is the North Korean nuclear weapons program that is provoking the stability of the whole region. For that reason are the six-party talks “a matter of extreme importance” to develop a world nuclear security (Lee 2004: 120).

After North Korea made public that it has built a nuclear weapon one of the main risks is that South Korea, Japan and maybe also Taiwan could also build one which would raise the risk for a military escalation of the conflict.1 Another dangerous threat is North Koreas export of nuclear weapons into countries that are part of merica’s so-called “axis of evil”͘

In December 1991 North Korea agreed to sign two documents with South Korea. The first was an agreement on reconciliation, non-aggression, exchanges and coop- eration; the other was the Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Thereafter the two Koreas entered a difficult negotiation to implement a nuclear inspection regime, which broke down without agreement.

This paper is supposed to give an overview about the most important negotiation efforts of the involved countries and focuses the process and outcomes of the sixparty talks. Within the negotiations very often the incorrect expectations about North Korea’s behaviour have made it harder to reach agreements with North Korea͘ On the other side North Korea’s negotiation strategy is still very nontransparent, changes regularly and does not provide many data about their policies, which makes it difficult to analyse its interests.

The first chapter will give a short introduction into the historical background of the Korean Conflict. The second chapter analyses the main points of conflict and gives and overview about the relations of the conflict parties. Finally it will come to the main negotiation efforts and the negotiation processes of the multilateral talks like the six-party talks and their importance for a prevention of an escalation of the con- flict.

2. Historical Background

To understand the relations between the conflict parties and the complexity of the conflict it is important to have a look on the Korean history first. The Japan-Korea Treaty of 1876 was the beginning of an unbalanced relationship between Korea and Japan, which started to dominate Korea in a politic and economical way. The Japan- Korea Annexation Treaty of 1910 declared Korea as an Imperial Japanese Protector- ate (Kim 2002: 4).

The aim of the Japanese was a total assimilation of the Koreans. During its colonial time Korea has been economically exploited by Japan and the life standards of the Koreans sank rapidly. In 1919 it came to mass demonstrations in that thousands of Koreans left their lives.2

Viewed in the context of the “Cold War” North Korea had a strategic location between the two communist giants of China and the Soviet Union. After Korea gained its independency from Japan in 1945 it became a battleground where the two fronts of communism and capitalism clashed at the border between the North and the South of the Korean Peninsula. In 1948 two states were founded: The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (also called North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (also called South Korea) (Starkey 2005: 20f).3

Long before the question about a nuclear program or North Korea as part of America’s “axis of evil” rose, it came to a war between the two blocs (the Korean War) from 1950 to 1953 in which North Korea was supported and influenced by the Soviet Union and South Korea was a battleground of the USA.

Though the Korean War is now more than 50 years ago “it has never been resolved” and the whole region is the most highly militarised in the world. Until today both Korean countries have developed itself very differently. North Korea is besides Cuba the last state with a straight communist ideology. Its non-transparent policy and military provocations are reasons for the extreme isolation from the international community. Despite that its economical situation is disastrous, whereas South Ko- rea has become an “economical miracle” after the end of the Cold War (Starkey 2005: 21).

3. The Korean Conflict

3.1 What is it about?

3.1.1 The struggle about the absolute power

Since 1984 both Korean states pursue the absolute power and rule over the Korean Peninsula, because both sides do not really accept the separation of the former unified country. Many citizens especially in South Korea do not see both Korean states as combatants but as brothers that had to be separated by different big powers and that have to support each other (Harnisch 2009: 17).

After North and South Korea entered the United Nations in 1991 they better put up with the fact that the history has divided the people, but in both states there are up to now institutions that work on a possibility of an eventual reunification of the Ko- rean states. Besides that there are still struggles about certain territories that are claimed by both sides, for example the demilitarised zone at the border between both states.

3.1.2 North Korea`s nuclear programme

Already during the Korean War in the 1950s the issue of nuclear weapons has been raised by the USA that threatened to use them in case North Korea would not end the military interventions against South Korea. In the following decades North Korea started a nuclear program that is used as North Korea’s most important means of exerting pressure until today.

Nevertheless North Korea signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1985, more or less because of the pressure of the Soviet Union. In the 1990s there raised doubts within the international community that North Korea is using its reactors only peacefully for the production of nuclear energy as the treaty allows it (Harnisch 2009: 3).

In 1992 the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) initiated controls about the use of nuclear material in North Korea, but Kim II Sung stopped the inspections of certain reactors and threatened to resign the NPT. This behaviour made “the world suspi- cious of its nuclear intentions” and increased the doubts especially of the USA that started to threaten with a military intervention if North Korea would not stop its nuclear program.4 In 1993 it came to the first nuclear crisis when North Korea with- drew from the NPT. It ended without a military escalation after the mediation ef- forts of Jimmy Carter with the “ greed Framework” between North Korea and the United States.


1 See sia Report N°230, 25 July 2012 International Crisis Group: “North Korean Succession and the risks of instability Executive Summary”͘ pp͘ 16͘

2 See

3 Taken out: Badische Zeitung, 12͘ 08͘ 2011, article: “Die letzte Mauer trennt Nord- und Südkorea”͘

4 See

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Negotiation as Prevention of Violent Conflict. The Role of the Multilateral Negotiation Efforts in the Korean Conflict
Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg  (Institut für Politikwissenschaft)
Introduction to Conflict Management
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negotiation, prevention, violent, conflict, korean
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Sabine Forkel (Author), 2014, Negotiation as Prevention of Violent Conflict. The Role of the Multilateral Negotiation Efforts in the Korean Conflict, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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