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S. Harper: Address to World Summit 2020

Address to World Summit 2020, Seoul, Korea, February 3-8, 2020


Merci beaucoup. Honorable high office-holders, past and present, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you to H.E. Mr. Goodluck Jonathan for your kind introduction and to the Universal Peace Federation for inviting me to join you once again at the World Peace Summit here in Seoul. I’ve been honored to be a small part of the important work that you do to advance peace in the world through interfaith dialogue and understanding. I’m also honored to be here this year, which I know is a momentous occasion for you: the century of the birth of your co-founder, the Rev. Dr. Moon. And I note that, this year, under the continued leadership of Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, you have a more ambitious program than ever. So, let us applaud the Universal Peace Federation and Dr. Moon for bringing us together!

Today, I’ve been asked to speak about peace-building, and the process of peace-building, with particular emphasis on the ongoing efforts of the Trump administration and its allies to advance the cause of peace on the Korean peninsula, to prevent further nuclearization in North Korea, and to encourage the evolution of the Kim regime away from its rogue-state status. Given the size and stature of your speaking lineup, I shall endeavor to be brief.

Last year, I laid out several pieces of advice as this new peace initiative appeared to be gaining some momentum. Let me re-cap them briefly. First, be gentle as doves and wise of serpents; that is, have peace in your heart but wisdom in your head, with your expectations shaped by the past and current behavior of the Kim regime. And, from that, second, do not put faith in their words, but only in their actions. Third, bring hard-power assets to the table, to convey both credible promises and credible threats, and be genuinely prepared to deploy them. Fourth, do not merely involve the Chinese; hold them accountable. The North Korean regime could not exist without overt Chinese support, and it could not continue to threaten its neighbors without tacit Chinese complicity. Fifth, beware of any role that might be played by the Putin regime. Experience suggests that at almost all times, it will be systematically unhelpful. Sixth, stay close to your allies. By that, I was not saying merely that the Republic of Korea must stay close to the United States of America, but that you should also endeavor to have the same closeness with Japan. Whatever the historical justification for the tensions between the Koreans and Japanese, such tensions are not in the interests of either nation today.

I added my belief, which I repeated when I was in Japan, that South Korea, as well as Australia, should be admitted to the Group of Seven, to create a stronger, truly global, economic, and geo-political forum of the world’s major democracies. In this regard, I want to particularly congratulate Dr. Moon and this organization for your bold and forward-looking call, this past October, for a new solidarity between South Korea and Japan.

Now, I will not attempt to rate how allies have performed in relation to the principles I laid out. What I think can be said, without much debate, is that the cautious optimism of last year has been replaced by cautious pessimism this year. Nevertheless, while President Trump’s initiative has not been successful in achieving any real progress towards denuclearization and reconciliation, the efforts deserve to be congratulated. They have been bold. President Trump’s decision to meet with Leader Kim, as well as President Moon’s assembling of a joint Olympic team, was a grand gesture of a genuine desire for peace and reconciliation. Such gestures are a necessary part of any peace-building process. But such grand gestures need not involve any foolish risks. And in this case, the gestures were not at all risky. There were no costly unilateral concessions, especially on sanctions. In the past, those have sometimes taken us nowhere, and at others, backfired entirely. And this wise refusal to make unilateral concessions has once again exposed North Korea’s lack of genuine desire for peace and reconciliation, as, indeed, had its lack of willingness to reciprocate goodwill, by enhancing family reunions, economic exchanges, or tourist visits.

The Trump administration has not only refused to engage in dangerous, unilateral concessions, it has also done something very necessary for peace-building in the long term. It has also restored the credible threat that the United States possesses to eliminate the North Korean regime at any time of its choosing. That should provide real limits to the kinds of risks that Kim may be willing to take.

All that said, where does this leave us? In effect, where we have been for many years now, a posture of containment, perhaps even, one could say, “strategic patience.” The North is dangerous, but the danger does appear to be contained, and we should have the patience to know that the regime cannot endure indefinitely. Why? Because it is a regime that has no achievements – nuclear arms do nothing for the lives of ordinary people – and the regime represents no hope. The regime serves neither God nor humanity. The regime cannot provide either the pleasures, or even the necessities of life.

It thus will become clear, eventually even to its leaders, that the North Korean regime has, in fact, no purpose. Of course, allies have to lock arms in common pursuit of containment and deterrence, and in common hope for eventual and inevitable reconciliation. Today, I do not speak for the government of Canada, but I have no doubt that Canadians will continue to work hand in hand, and shoulder to shoulder, with our South Korean, American, and Japanese friends in these shared objectives. The bonds of friendship and alliance, first forged in the shared sacrifices in the Korean War, and now sustained by common democratic values, strong people-to-people ties, and economic relationships enshrined in robust trade agreements, will ensure that. And, in the meantime, the constant efforts of civil society, led by your organization, the Universal Peace Federation, to bring about reconciliation between religions and nations, and especially, between Koreans, North and South, will lay the groundwork for eventual success. And the North will, once that day is reached, attain all of the wonderful and amazing progress that we have witnessed, and continue to witness, in the Republic of Korea.

Thank you again for your invitation and your attention, and I look forward to our discussion. Merci beaucoup.



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