The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) Northeast Asia convened the seventh annual Ulaanbaatar Process meeting on December 9, 2021. Almost 30 participants from throughout the Northeast Asia region, as well as Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States gathered to discuss the current situation in the region, priorities and opportunities for peacebuilding, and planning for the coming year. The continued need to focus on the urgent situation on the Korean Peninsula, including support and solidarity for actions to end the ongoing Korean War, was once again confirmed.
The dialogue was held for the second consecutive year online, amidst the ongoing uncertainty and difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to cause a widening of divides and inequalities in society. As well as an increase in tensions including cross-strait relations and US – China competition, participants noted that the critical threats of the climate crisis and nuclear weapons underscore the need for peaceful means of resolution more than ever, as well as the crucial role of civil society in dialogue and solidarity.
While highlighting these urgent challenges, participants also reaffirmed several important steps and progress made this year. One such example is that Mongolia became the first state in Northeast Asia to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into force in January 2021 – a key step for concrete denuclearization of the region.
Women peacebuilders continue to pave the way, promoting a feminist vision of security. Their historic achievements were recognised at the 30th anniversary of the Seminar on Peace in Asia and Women’s Role, the first inter-Korean citizens’ gathering. Participants stressed the need to amplify the message that women do not want war, and are mobilising against it, as well as proposals toward establishing a Northeast Asian Women’s Network for Peace and Security based on UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
Important steps for the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda in Northeast Asia were also highlighted, including a range of inspiring and engaging youth-led initiatives introduced by GPPAC members and partners in 2021. Numerous members spoke of their efforts to engage many more young people in meaningful ways, and discussion was held on how to localize the YPS agenda, to connect youth with various strategies and policies, and how to further expand capacity development opportunities for youth in the region.
Recognizing that COVID-19 has necessitated a change in approaches and methods, participants agreed to increase and enhance more regular online roundtables and exchanges as we move forward, while at the same time reassessing the power of face to face meetings, calling attention to the need for even deeper connections especially when coping with militarism and divisions. The continuing priority of pursuing the creation of virtual spaces where participation is possible from all parts of the region, including the DPRK, was also underscored as a priority for 2021; while pledging to restore in person activities as soon as possible.