Negotiating the Peace: Diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula

By Dr John Hemmings, Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo and Dr Tat Yan Kong

North Korea is ready to do a deal with Donald Trump, in which it exchanges its nuclear arsenal for economic investment and international status. However, before we can get there, states will have to build trust over a long diplomatic process, in which disarmament is exchanged for sanctions relief.

Negotiating the Peace, a new report published jointly by the Henry Jackson Society, King’s College London and the School of Oriental and African Studies examines the negotiating positions of all six countries involved in the North Korean nuclear crisis: the US, North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia. Edited by Dr John Hemmings, Director of the Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society; Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Reader in International Relations at King’s College London; and Dr Tat Yan Kong, Reader in Comparative Politics & Development Studies at SOAS.  The report has been endorsed by Chair of the Defence Select Committee, Dr Julian Lewis as well as former ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Ambassador Warwick Morris.

Built as diplomatic negotiator’s handbook, the report’s bold conclusions include the dramatic claims that:

  • For the first time the Kim regime has reversed its national priorities – placing economic development above nuclear security.
  • The Trump administration’s ‘Libya Model’ won’t work. A new step-by-step process of disarmament in exchange for sanctions relief is the way forward.
  • North Korea’s regime security should be guaranteed but not at the expense of human rights.

Dr John Hemmings, commented:

“Peace in our time or nuclear war?  This ground-breaking new report –drawing on the wisdom of a panel of international experts –  sets out how the region can achieve the former and avoid the latter.

For the first time in living memory, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Put simply, the North Korean regime is now prepared to swap its nuclear arsenal for economic development.

The question is can the 6, put aside their narrow self-interest and do what is needed to achieve peace.”

Report Endorsements

‘This HJS Report is a valuable and timely contribution to the increasingly urgent debate about how best to resolve the nuclear threat from North Korea, and to guarantee peace and security on the Korean peninsula and in the region.  It usefully summarizes the priorities and objectives of each country with a stake in the outcome, while at the same time arguing for some give and take by all concerned, and for a step by step approach to build trust if meaningful results are to be achieved. Continuing to muddle through, the Report suggests, will resolve nothing. ‘

Amb. Warwick Morris, British Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, 2003-2008.’ 


“This new country-by-country analysis, produced by a six-panel roundtable of experts hosted by SOAS, KCL and the Henry Jackson Society, seeks possible ways forward if recent negotiations are to have a chance of making progress. By systematically charting the perceived aims and objectives of China, Japan, the USA, Russia and the two Korean states, it poses ‘primary questions’ in relation to each of those countries. The hardest to answer are undoubtedly those regarding the sincerity of North Korea and China in contemplating complete denuclearisation, in return for concessions and support from other powers in the region. Provided that they are serious, then there is much of value in this comprehensive examination of the central issues in a peace-bargaining process.”

Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP, Chair of the Defence Select Committee


“This report by HJS, KCL, and SOAS, takes a long, hard look at the primary negotiating positions of all six players on the Korean Peninsula in a well-meaning attempt to untangle the barriers to peace. While others have pointed out the challenges to successful diplomacy, few other reports on this subject indicate exactly where the access points lay. Whether or not they are correct, regardless of whether these six nations takes the necessary steps to resolve the crisis, the report is worth reading for anyone interested in diplomacy and negotiations.”

Dr Robert E Kelly, Professor of Political Science, Pusan National University


To read the full report, click here.


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