How civil society can help to end war

June 6, 2022

Published in The Ploughshares Monitor Volume 43 Issue 2 Summer 2022

Written by Peter Noteboom

Before legislation is passed and treaties are signed, history tells us civil society plays a critical and irreplaceable role in ending war.

Labour unions, human rights organizations, faith communities, community organizations, educational institutions, healthcare workers – all play their parts in channelling the political will of a society.


The Korean War began in 1950 and a ceasefire or armistice was declared in 1953. But no peace agreement has ever been signed. And so the war has not yet ended.

Both North and South Korean governments have used the conflict as an excuse to violate the human rights of citizens, devote scarce resources to the military rather than human health and welfare, and maintain the separation of millions of Korean families that exist on both sides of the border that was sealed in 1953.

Korean civil society has for many years sought to end the war and build peace. Now more than 370 Korean civil society organizations are endorsing the Korea Peace Appeal and urging their counterparts in Canada and around the world to support the campaign. As Canada contributed more than 26,000 soldiers to the United Nations forces that fought in Korea, where 516 Canadians died, Canadian civil society has a role to play.

The Korea Peace Appeal aims to collect 100 million signatures in support of an action to end the war, establish a nuclear-free zone, resolve the conflict, and invest in human security and environmental sustainability. The signatures will be delivered to the United Nations and the governments of the countries involved in the war, including the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the United States, and China.

On May 4, The Canadian Council of Churches joined the National Council of Churches in Korea in support of the campaign. The United Church of Canada, a CCC member, is a longstanding global partner of Korean churches and faith communities and is championing the appeal in Canada. It has committed to securing 10,000 signatures.

This campaign invites comparisons with the current situation in Ukraine. What actions will civil society take in Russia? In Ukraine? In Canada?


Sign the petition to help to

  • End the Korean War and establish a peace agreement
  • Create a Korean Peninsula and a world free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threat
  • Resolve the conflict with dialogue and cooperation instead of sanctions and pressure
  • Break from the vicious cycle of the arms race and invest in human security and environmental sustainability.

Peter Noteboom is the General Secretary of The Canadian Council of Churches.

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