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Important Dates in the History of Korea and the United Nations
Boris Kondoch

 

 

 
22-26 November 1943: Joint Declaration by China, the UK, and the United States at the Cairo Conference, that Korea should become free and independent.
 
28 November ~ 1 December 1943: Roosevelt proposes to place Korea under international trusteeship. Stalin agrees.
 
1945: After World War II, Japanese occupation of Korea ends with Soviet troops occupying the north, and US troops the south.
 
8 February 1945: Stalin and Roosevelt reaffirm the trusteeship concept at the Yalta conference.
 
July 1945: Potsdam Declaration reaffirms the Cairo Declaration.
 
December 1945: Agreement between the US and the Soviet Union at the Moscow Conference to place Korea under their trusteeship and to establish a US-Soviet Joint Commission, which would assist the formation of a provisional government.
 
1947: No agreement at the meetings of the Joint Commission. Therefore, the US decides to bring the Korean question before the General Assembly (the Korea question becomes a hot issue at the UN for the next thirty years.)
 
September 1947: Despite of protests by the Soviet Union, the GA put the “Question of the Independence of Korea on the Agenda”
 
November 1947: The GA establishes the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK) to oversee free and fair elections in Korea after World War II and to arrange for the withdrawal of the armed forces of the occupying powers within 90 days. In Soviet-controlled North Korea, the body is not recognized.
 
1948: General elections are held only in South Korea on 10 May. Syngman Rhee becomes the first president. UNTCOK reaffirms the May election. GA Resolution 195 (III) of 12 December 1948 recognizes that the government of the Republic of Korea was lawfully established and to be the only legitimate government on the Korean peninsula. By the same resolution, a Commission on Korea is established, which replaces UNTCOK.
 
January 1949: South Korea applies for the first time, for membership to the United Nations, but the application is turned down because of the veto of the Soviet Union (North and South Korea unsuccessfully applied on several occasions for membership, until they were finally admitted in 1991).
 
February 1949: North Korea requests its admission to the United Nations and opposes the membership of South Korea.
 
1949: On 8th September, the Commission on Korea publishes a report in which it stresses the hopelessness of trying to make contact with, or gain access, to North Korea.
 
1950: On 25 June, North Korea invades South Korea. In response to the invasion, the UN Security Council determines in Security Council Resolution 82 that the armed attack upon the Republic of Korea constitutes a breach of the peace and calls upon North Korea to withdraw forth with their armed forces to the thirty-eighth parallel, and asked all UN members to render every assistance to the United Nations in execution of this resolution and refrain from giving assistance to the North Korean authorities. By Resolution 83 of 27 June, the Security Council recommends that the members of the United Nations furnishes such assistance to the Republic of Korea as might be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security in the area. Both resolutions could only pass because the Soviet Union did not take its seat.
On July 7: the UN Security Council calls for the establishment of a unified command over Korean operations under the direction of the United States.
 
On October 7: the General Assembly establishes the United Nations Commission for the Unification and Rehabilitation of Korea (UNCURK) under Resolution 376 (V).
 
On 3 November: the General Assembly adopts the controversial “Uniting for Peace Resolution” (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 377,) The resolution is initiated by the United States as a means of circumventing possible Soviet vetoes in regard to the Korean War.
 
“... if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures, including in the case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression the use of armed force when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security.”
In December, the General Assembly establishes the United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency (UNKRA), which has the task to support the Korean economy.
 
1951: On 1 February, the General Assembly finds that the People’s Republic of China had itself engaged in aggression in Korea and requests a committee to consider additional measures to be employed to meet this aggression and to report thereon to the General Assembly.
 
1951: On 18 May, the General Assembly adopted a further resolution, which called for the application of a strategic embargo against communist China and North Korea.
27 July 1953: The armistice signed at Panmunjom brings an end to the Korean War, which has cost two million lives.
25 September 1954: The Japanese government lodges a complaint with the International Court of Justice against South Korea for illegally taking possession of the Liancourt Rocks and the surrounding waters. The South Korean government does not respond.
 
July 1968: North Korea signs the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
1973: North Korea opens an UN observer mission in New York.
 
23 June 1973: South Korea proposes dual membership of North and South Korea in the United Nations. North Korea’s counter proposal suggests that North and South Korea form the Confederal Republic of Koryo and join the UN under the single name of Confederal Republic of Koryo.
 
1976: Since 1976 no more resolutions have been adopted on ‘The Korean Question’ at the General Assembly.
 
1991: Admission of North and South Korea to the UN.
 
1991: South Korea sends medical corps to support the US coalition which had been authorized by SC resolution 678 to liberate Kuwait from Iraq.
 
1992: North Korea agrees to allow inspections by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but over next two years refuses access to sites of suspected nuclear weapons production.
 
1993-5: South Korea becomes elected to one of the main organs of the United Nations, the Economic and Social Council.
11 May 1993: Security Council Resolution 825 calls upon North Korea to reconsider withdrawing from the Treaty on Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The resolution urges North Korea to honor its non-proliferation obligations under the Treaty.
 
July 1993: Korea dispatched a 250 person engineering unit to UNOSOM II (Somalia).
 
1993: South Korea provides electoral assistance to Cambodia.
 
September 1994: South Korea sends a medical unit of 20 personnel to MINURSO (Western Sahara).
 
October 1994: South Korea participates in UNOMIG (Georgia).
 
November 1994: South Korea starts to participate in UNMOGIP (India-Pakistan).
1995: Beginning in 1995, North Koreans have tried to escape to China (exact numbers are not known).
 
October 1995: South Korea sends an engineering unit of 198 personnel UNAVEM III (Angola).
 
1996: North Korea announces it will no longer abide by the armistice that ended the Korean War.
 
1996-97: Member of the Security Council.
 
1997: South Korea provides electoral assistance to Cambodia.
 
1997-99: South Korea is elected again to the Economic and Social Council.
 
1998: UN food aid brings in North Korea to help famine victims.
 
1998: For the first time, the UNHCR gets involved in the case of the North Korean escapees.
 
October 1999: South Korea participates in UNTAET(East Timor).
 
2001-2002: President of the 56th session of the General Assembly
 
2002: The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) requests access to North Koreans in China, but is denied.
 
October-December 2002: Nuclear tensions. According to the US North Korea has admitted to having a secret weapons programme. In December North Korea reactivated the Yongbyon reactor. International inspectors were thrown out.
January 2003: North Korea withdraws from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) April 9, 2003. The UN Security Council is concerned about North Koreas nuclear program, but does not condemn North Koreans for withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

February 2003: Professor Song, Sang-Hyun of Seoul National University is elected as judge to the International Criminal Court
 
September 2003: South Korea participates in UNMIL (Liberia).
 
2003: The UN Commission on Human Rights adopts a resolution calling on North Korea to respect basic human rights.
 
28 April 2004: Resolution 1540 affirms that “proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security.” The Security Council urges all States to take additional effective measures to prevent proliferation, including nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery.
2005: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has officially acknowledged the widespread human rights violations in North Korea:
‘Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, public executions, extrajudicial and arbitrary detention, the absence of due process and the rule of law, imposition of the death penalty for political reasons, the existence of a large number of prison camps and the extensive use of forced labour;
 
Sanctions on citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who have been repatriated from abroad, such as treating their departure as treason leading to punishments of internment, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or the death penalty;

All-pervasive and severe restrictions on the freedoms of thought, conscience, religion, opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association and on access of everyone to information, and limitations imposed on every person who wishes to move freely within the country and travel abroad;

Continued violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women, in particular the trafficking of women for prostitution or forced marriage, ethnically motivated forced abortions, including by labour inducing injection or natural delivery, as well as infanticide of children of repatriated mothers, including in police detention centres and labour training camps …’ (United Nation’s Human Rights Resolution 2005/11,
http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/CHR/resolutions/E-CN_4-RES-2005-11.doc)
15 July 2006: Pursuant to SC Resolution 1695, the Security Council explicitly condemns the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) nuclear weapons program. The Council demands that the DPRK cuts back its missile launches, which jeopardize peace and security in the region. The resolution bans all member states from transactions with North Korean involving material, technology or financial resources transfer connected to DPRK’s missiles or weapons of mass destruction programs.
 
October 2006: North Korea claims to test a nuclear weapon for the first time.
 
14 October 2006: The Security Council adopts Resolution 1718. The Council, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, unanimously imposed sanctions on North Korea, in reaction of Pyongyang’s nuclear test. The sanctions regime includes an embargo on military and technological materials, as well as luxury goods. In addition, the resolution demands the freezing of North Korea’s financial assets with the exception of funds necessary to meet basic needs.
 
October 2006: Ban Ki-moon is appointed as the 7th Secretary-General of the United Nations. He takes office in January 2007.
 
February 2007: Six-nation talks on nuclear programme resume in China. North Korea agreed to close its main nuclear reactor in exchange for fuel aid.
 
Important Dates in the History of Korea and the United Nations
Boris Kondoch
22-26 November 1943: Joint Declaration by China, the UK, and the United States at the Cairo Conference, that Korea should become free and independent.
 
28 November ~ 1 December 1943: Roosevelt proposes to place Korea under international trusteeship. Stalin agrees.
 
1945: After World War II, Japanese occupation of Korea ends with Soviet troops occupying the north, and US troops the south.
 
8 February 1945: Stalin and Roosevelt reaffirm the trusteeship concept at the Yalta conference.
 
July 1945: Potsdam Declaration reaffirms the Cairo Declaration.
 
December 1945: Agreement between the US and the Soviet Union at the Moscow Conference to place Korea under their trusteeship and to establish a US-Soviet Joint Commission, which would assist the formation of a provisional government.
 
1947: No agreement at the meetings of the Joint Commission. Therefore, the US decides to bring the Korean question before the General Assembly (the Korea question becomes a hot issue at the UN for the next thirty years.)
 
September 1947: Despite of protests by the Soviet Union, the GA put the “Question of the Independence of Korea on the Agenda”
 
November 1947: The GA establishes the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK) to oversee free and fair elections in Korea after World War II and to arrange for the withdrawal of the armed forces of the occupying powers within 90 days. In Soviet-controlled North Korea, the body is not recognized.
 
1948: General elections are held only in South Korea on 10 May. Syngman Rhee becomes the first president. UNTCOK reaffirms the May election. GA Resolution 195 (III) of 12 December 1948 recognizes that the government of the Republic of Korea was lawfully established and to be the only legitimate government on the Korean peninsula. By the same resolution, a Commission on Korea is established, which replaces UNTCOK.
 
January 1949: South Korea applies for the first time, for membership to the United Nations, but the application is turned down because of the veto of the Soviet Union (North and South Korea unsuccessfully applied on several occasions for membership, until they were finally admitted in 1991).
 
February 1949: North Korea requests its admission to the United Nations and opposes the membership of South Korea.
 
1949: On 8th September, the Commission on Korea publishes a report in which it stresses the hopelessness of trying to make contact with, or gain access, to North Korea.
 
1950: On 25 June, North Korea invades South Korea. In response to the invasion, the UN Security Council determines in Security Council Resolution 82 that the armed attack upon the Republic of Korea constitutes a breach of the peace and calls upon North Korea to withdraw forth with their armed forces to the thirty-eighth parallel, and asked all UN members to render every assistance to the United Nations in execution of this resolution and refrain from giving assistance to the North Korean authorities. By Resolution 83 of 27 June, the Security Council recommends that the members of the United Nations furnishes such assistance to the Republic of Korea as might be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security in the area. Both resolutions could only pass because the Soviet Union did not take its seat.
On July 7: the UN Security Council calls for the establishment of a unified command over Korean operations under the direction of the United States.
 
On October 7: the General Assembly establishes the United Nations Commission for the Unification and Rehabilitation of Korea (UNCURK) under Resolution 376 (V).
 
On 3 November: the General Assembly adopts the controversial “Uniting for Peace Resolution” (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 377,) The resolution is initiated by the United States as a means of circumventing possible Soviet vetoes in regard to the Korean War.
 
“... if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures, including in the case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression the use of armed force when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security.”
In December, the General Assembly establishes the United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency (UNKRA), which has the task to support the Korean economy.
 
1951: On 1 February, the General Assembly finds that the People’s Republic of China had itself engaged in aggression in Korea and requests a committee to consider additional measures to be employed to meet this aggression and to report thereon to the General Assembly.
 
1951: On 18 May, the General Assembly adopted a further resolution, which called for the application of a strategic embargo against communist China and North Korea.
27 July 1953: The armistice signed at Panmunjom brings an end to the Korean War, which has cost two million lives.
25 September 1954: The Japanese government lodges a complaint with the International Court of Justice against South Korea for illegally taking possession of the Liancourt Rocks and the surrounding waters. The South Korean government does not respond.
 
July 1968: North Korea signs the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
1973: North Korea opens an UN observer mission in New York.
 
23 June 1973: South Korea proposes dual membership of North and South Korea in the United Nations. North Korea’s counter proposal suggests that North and South Korea form the Confederal Republic of Koryo and join the UN under the single name of Confederal Republic of Koryo.
 
1976: Since 1976 no more resolutions have been adopted on ‘The Korean Question’ at the General Assembly.
 
1991: Admission of North and South Korea to the UN.
 
1991: South Korea sends medical corps to support the US coalition which had been authorized by SC resolution 678 to liberate Kuwait from Iraq.
 
1992: North Korea agrees to allow inspections by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but over next two years refuses access to sites of suspected nuclear weapons production.
 
1993-5: South Korea becomes elected to one of the main organs of the United Nations, the Economic and Social Council.
11 May 1993: Security Council Resolution 825 calls upon North Korea to reconsider withdrawing from the Treaty on Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The resolution urges North Korea to honor its non-proliferation obligations under the Treaty.
 
July 1993: Korea dispatched a 250 person engineering unit to UNOSOM II (Somalia).
 
1993: South Korea provides electoral assistance to Cambodia.
 
September 1994: South Korea sends a medical unit of 20 personnel to MINURSO (Western Sahara).
 
October 1994: South Korea participates in UNOMIG (Georgia).
 
November 1994: South Korea starts to participate in UNMOGIP (India-Pakistan).
1995: Beginning in 1995, North Koreans have tried to escape to China (exact numbers are not known).
 
October 1995: South Korea sends an engineering unit of 198 personnel UNAVEM III (Angola).
 
1996: North Korea announces it will no longer abide by the armistice that ended the Korean War.
 
1996-97: Member of the Security Council.
 
1997: South Korea provides electoral assistance to Cambodia.
 
1997-99: South Korea is elected again to the Economic and Social Council.
 
1998: UN food aid brings in North Korea to help famine victims.
 
1998: For the first time, the UNHCR gets involved in the case of the North Korean escapees.
 
October 1999: South Korea participates in UNTAET(East Timor).
 
2001-2002: President of the 56th session of the General Assembly
 
2002: The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) requests access to North Koreans in China, but is denied.
 
October-December 2002: Nuclear tensions. According to the US North Korea has admitted to having a secret weapons programme. In December North Korea reactivated the Yongbyon reactor. International inspectors were thrown out.
January 2003: North Korea withdraws from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) April 9, 2003. The UN Security Council is concerned about North Koreas nuclear program, but does not condemn North Koreans for withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

February 2003: Professor Song, Sang-Hyun of Seoul National University is elected as judge to the International Criminal Court
 
September 2003: South Korea participates in UNMIL (Liberia).
 
2003: The UN Commission on Human Rights adopts a resolution calling on North Korea to respect basic human rights.
 
28 April 2004: Resolution 1540 affirms that “proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security.” The Security Council urges all States to take additional effective measures to prevent proliferation, including nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery.
2005: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has officially acknowledged the widespread human rights violations in North Korea:
‘Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, public executions, extrajudicial and arbitrary detention, the absence of due process and the rule of law, imposition of the death penalty for political reasons, the existence of a large number of prison camps and the extensive use of forced labour;
 
Sanctions on citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who have been repatriated from abroad, such as treating their departure as treason leading to punishments of internment, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or the death penalty;

All-pervasive and severe restrictions on the freedoms of thought, conscience, religion, opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association and on access of everyone to information, and limitations imposed on every person who wishes to move freely within the country and travel abroad;

Continued violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women, in particular the trafficking of women for prostitution or forced marriage, ethnically motivated forced abortions, including by labour inducing injection or natural delivery, as well as infanticide of children of repatriated mothers, including in police detention centres and labour training camps …’ (United Nation’s Human Rights Resolution 2005/11,
http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/CHR/resolutions/E-CN_4-RES-2005-11.doc)
15 July 2006: Pursuant to SC Resolution 1695, the Security Council explicitly condemns the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) nuclear weapons program. The Council demands that the DPRK cuts back its missile launches, which jeopardize peace and security in the region. The resolution bans all member states from transactions with North Korean involving material, technology or financial resources transfer connected to DPRK’s missiles or weapons of mass destruction programs.
 
October 2006: North Korea claims to test a nuclear weapon for the first time.
 
14 October 2006: The Security Council adopts Resolution 1718. The Council, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, unanimously imposed sanctions on North Korea, in reaction of Pyongyang’s nuclear test. The sanctions regime includes an embargo on military and technological materials, as well as luxury goods. In addition, the resolution demands the freezing of North Korea’s financial assets with the exception of funds necessary to meet basic needs.
 
October 2006: Ban Ki-moon is appointed as the 7th Secretary-General of the United Nations. He takes office in January 2007.
 
February 2007: Six-nation talks on nuclear programme resume in China. North Korea agreed to close its main nuclear reactor in exchange for fuel aid.
 
 

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