MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING (MoU) BETWEEN THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA (DPRK) AND THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA (ROK) REGARDING FUTURE PROTECTION OF BOTH NATURE AND CULTURE IN THE DEMILITARIZED ZONE (DMZ) PLUS ITS CONTIGUOUS NORTHERN BUFFER ZONE (NBZ) AND SOUTHERN BUFFER (CIVILIAN CONTROL) ZONE (SBZ)
Recalling our commitment via Article 1 of the 1945 Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice to maintain international peace, develop friendly relations among nations, and achieve international cooperation; and furthermore
Mindful of our commitment via Article 8.a of the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (UNTS 30619) to establish a system of protected natural areas; and via Article 5 to cooperate with other nations to that end; and furthermore
Recognizing the commitment by at least one of us (ROK) via Article 2 of the 1971 Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (UNTS 14583) to establish wetlands of international importance; and via Article 5 to consultation with respect to a transfrontier wetland or water system; and furthermore
Noting our affinity with the 1982 World Charter for Nature (UNGA Res 37/7) in providing an overall conceptual framework for our relationship with the natural world; and in particular with the general guidelines for cooperation offered by Article 21; and furthermore
Understanding the obligation of all nations not only to respect the whole of nature within and beyond their national domains, but more specifically to also protect in perpetuity some fraction of their own flora, fauna, and associated habitats—doing so both on behalf of the biota per se and in order to ensure the long-term survival and well-being of their own human inhabitants; and, moreover, realizing that such obligation to protect nature should in principle be independent of any unrelated political considerations; and furthermore
Knowing that the DMZ and its contiguous NBZ and SBZ have to a major extent recovered their ecological integrity on a de facto basis over the past half-century or so, thereby providing a priceless de jure opportunity for us to add to our as yet modest amounts of necessary habitat allocated in perpetuity for nature; in the additional recognition that they hold irreplaceable natural habitats flourishing with native species of plants and animals already lost elsewhere on the peninsula, thus providing a critical resource for the peninsula’s nature restoration and conservation; and also aware of the archeological, historical, spiritual, recreational, and similar cultural inclusions that would be simultaneously protected; and furthermore
Recalling our long-term concerns over the environmental and cultural future of the DMZ, as exemplified, inter alia, by the individual approaches we each made in 1991 to the Secretary General of the United Nations to explore the possibility of a DMZ-centered reserve for peace and nature; and furthermore
In sympathy with the 2008 United Nations Collaborative Programme of FAO, UNDP, and UNEP on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD), as well with the 2009 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNTS 30822) draft policy approaches and positive incentives for that Programme (REDD +), which, inter alia, emphasize the role of conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks; and furthermore
In the knowledge that encouragement, support, and technical assistance in this endeavor would be available from UNEP, UNDP, FAO, UN-REDD, UNESCO, IUCN, the International Crane Foundation, the Peace Parks Foundation, the DMZ Forum, and other international agencies and nongovernmental organizations; and in the further knowledge of a number of precedents elsewhere in the world; we now therefore enter into the following bilateral understanding:
Article 1. We express our firm desire to protect in perpetuity as much as possible of the DMZ, its contiguous NBZ and SBZ, and its two associated coastal sea areas as a so-called green belt across our peninsula, expressing this desire on behalf of both nature and our citizenry, the latter owing to the several crucial so–called ecosystem services provided as well as to the protection of archeological, historical, spiritual, recreational, and similar cultural inclusions variously supportive, inter alia, of science, education, and tourism; and, moreover, for such green belt to serve as an inspiring permanent living memorial to all those who lost their lives in the Korean War of 1950–1953.
Article 2. We express our intention at some early date to unilaterally identify one or more sites within our half of the DMZ and its contiguous NBZ or SBZ, each of perhaps ten-thousand (10,000) ha or more in size, and each consisting of a natural, or natural plus cultural, area worthy of protecting in perpetuity as a reserve. It is our intention to choose each site on the basis of its value in protecting some special habitat (upland, wetland, grassland, woodland, mountain, plain, coastal sea, etc.) as well as of the richness or uniqueness of the biological diversity (biodiversity) of its indigenous flora and fauna, including the number of supported biota threatened with extinction, among the latter, e.g., the red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis; IUCN Endangered), so widely revered on the Korean peninsula as a symbol of peace, prosperity, and long life; and also, as appropriate, to protect any archeological, historical, spiritual, recreational, or similar cultural inclusions of lasting importance. Some of the potential sites it is our intention to consider are presented in Annex 1 [Appendix 7.5.1].
Article 3. We express our intention to designate each such site described in Article 2 as a protected area enjoying a level of protection equal to one or another of the various IUCN Protected Area Management Categories, as described in Annex 2 [Appendix 7.5.2]. It is our intention to forthwith set in motion establishment of any portion of the site falling within our own NBZ or SBZ, and to similarly provide forthwith for the establishment of any portion falling within our half of the DMZ as soon as that becomes legally possible.
Article 4. We express our intention that to the extent that a site chosen by the DPRK is contiguous with a site chosen by the ROK along the boundary between the two Koreas (along the Military Demarcation Line), both the DPRK and the ROK agree in time to a direct exchange of information between the contiguous two local protected area authorities on purely technical matters, e.g., on transboundary wildfire control, transboundary movement of wildlife, and transboundary floral or faunal disease or pest control.
Article 5. We express our intention at an early date to consider to set in motion—as ecologically appropriate—the necessary steps to designate any protected area we unilaterally establish within our half of the DMZ and its contiguous NBZ or SBZ as one or more of the following: (a) a ‘World Natural (or Natural plus Cultural) Heritage’, as provided for by Articles 3 and 2 of the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (UNTS 15511); (b) a ‘Biosphere Reserve’, as provided for by the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program; (c) a ‘Wetland of International Importance’, as provided for or suggested by Article 2 of the 1971 Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (UNTS 14583); and (d) a ‘Regional Sea’, as provided for by the UNEP Regional Seas Program.
Article 6. We express our intention of considering the possibility of acting jointly in working toward any special-area designation described in Article 5.
Article 7. We express our intention to permanently demilitarize any protected areas we establish within our half of the DMZ and its contiguous NBZ or SBZ, doing so within the framework of Article 60 of the 1977 Protocol [I] Additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (UNTS 17512).
Article 8. We express our intention to remove any known mine fields and other hazards from any protected areas we establish within our half of the DMZ and its contiguous NBZ or SBZ in an environmentally sensitive manner, doing so within the framework of Article 2 of the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement; and also in the spirit of Article 1 of the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and their Destruction (UNTS 35597). [A subsequent addition: And similarly of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (UNTS 47663).]
Article 9. We express our intention to have at least semi-annual consultative meetings on the progress of this MoU between the Ministers of the Environment of the DPRK and ROK or their respective designees, the venue of such meetings to be at a mutually acceptable neutral site, or else to alternate between Pyongyang and Seoul; and to which, at our joint discretion, observers may be invited to represent the International Crane Foundation, DMZ Forum, IUCN, UNEP, or other relevant intergovernmental agency or nongovernmental organization of our joint choosing.
Article 10. We express our intention that our long-term goal, in principle, is to consummate one or more formal agreements between the DPRK and ROK that would establish one or more transboundary protected areas for peace and nature in those instances where our unilaterally established contiguous protected areas coincide with a cross-border habitat that would most sensibly be managed as a joint endeavor. Such transboundary protected area(s) would thus be managed on a day-to-day basis by its own bilateral commission that enjoys a certain level of autonomy in its routine technical operations.
Article 12. The Annexes to this MoU form an integral part of this MoU.
Article 13. Once signed, this MoU shall remain valid until replaced by a formal bilateral treaty of comparable intent; or until either the DPRK or the ROK formally withdraws from it in writing.
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Annex 1 Potential Sites Under Consideration
The DPRK Lowland Protected Area in Kangwon Province
The ROK Lowland Protected Area in Gyeonggi Province
These two contiguous largely low wetland areas under consideration for protection are situated ca 60 km northeast of Panmunjom. They are important as a migratory staging area or wintering ground for a number of migratory waterfowl following the Northeast Asian Flyway (thereby primarily involving the DPRK, ROK, China, and Russia). Indeed, these two areas are crucial to the survival of the red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis
; IUCN Endangered) and the white-naped crane (Grus vipio
; IUCN Vulnerable). Other threatened bird species that benefit from these two areas are the Chinese egret (Egretta eulophotes
; IUCN Vulnerable), the black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor
; IUCN Endangered), and possibly also the hooded crane (Grus monacha
; IUCN Vulnerable). Mammals threatened with extinction in these two areas include the Siberian musk deer (Moschus moschiferus
; IUCN Vulnerable). The two areas support numerous species of indigenous fish, the latter providing a highly valuable source of fish where needed elsewhere in the DPRK and ROK for restocking in waters from which they have become extirpated. These two contiguous protected areas under consideration, which might each be 50,000 ha or more in size, have potential for both eco-tourism and cultural tourism; and could perhaps fall within IUCN Category II or IV (cf. Annex 2
) [Appendix 7.5.2
The DPRK Mountain Protected Area in Kumgansan Province
The ROK Mountain Protected Area in Gangwon Province
These two contiguous largely temperate-forest upland areas under consideration for protection are situated ca 50 km southwest of the eastern terminus of the DMZ. They are important for the survival of a number of threatened mammalian species, including the Himalayan black bear (Ursus thibetanus; IUCN Vulnerable) and the Siberian musk deer (Moschus moschiferus; IUCN Vulnerable). Birds threatened with extinction that make use of these two areas include especially the red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis; IUCN Endangered). The area under consideration here by the DPRK already includes the Mount Kumgang National Park (60,000 ha; IUCN Category II), ca 30 km northwest of the Military Demarcation Line. The area under consideration here by the ROK already includes the Seoraksan National Park (39,800 ha; IUCN Category II), ca 40 km southeast of the Military Demarcation Line. Both of these existing protected areas are currently under consideration as World Heritage Sites. These two contiguous protected areas under consideration would in effect functionally connect those two existing national protected areas, thereby constituting a generally north-south mountainous ridge-line wildlife corridor especially beneficial to large mammals and other wildlife. These two contiguous protected areas under consideration, which might each add 20,000 ha or more to the two already existing protected areas, have potential for both eco-tourism and cultural tourism; and could perhaps fall within IUCN Category II or IV (cf. Annex 2) [Appendix 7.5.2].
Annex 2 IUCN Protected Area Categories
All IUCN categories: Protected areas of land and/or sea dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources.
IUCN Category Ia: ‘Strict Nature Reserve’, being a protected area managed mainly for science. This is an area of land and/or sea possessing some outstanding or representative ecosystems, geological or physiological features, and/or species, available primarily for scientific research and/or environmental monitoring.
IUCN Category Ib: ‘Wilderness Area’, being a protected area managed mainly for wilderness protection. This is a large area of unmodified or slightly modified land and/or sea, retaining its natural character and influence, without permanent or significant habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural condition.
IUCN Category II: ‘National Park’, being a protected area managed mainly for ecosystem protection and recreation. This is a natural area of land and/or sea, designated to (1) protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for present and future generations, (2) exclude exploitation or occupation inimical to the purposes of designation of the area, and (3) provide a foundation for spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational, and visitor opportunities, all of which must be environmentally and culturally compatible.
IUCN Category III: ‘Natural Monument’, being a protected area managed mainly for conservation of specific natural features. This is an area containing one, or more, specific natural or natural/cultural feature which is of outstanding or unique value because of its inherent rarity, representative or aesthetic qualities, or cultural significance.
IUCN Category IV: ‘Habitat/Species Management Area’, being a protected area managed mainly for conservation through management intervention. This is an area of land and/or sea subject to active intervention for management purposes so as to ensure the maintenance of habitats and/or to meet the requirements of specific species.
IUCN Category V: ‘Protected Landscape/Seascape’, being a protected area managed mainly for landscape/seascape conservation and recreation. This is an area of land, with coast and sea as appropriate, where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant aesthetic, ecological, and/or cultural value, and often with high biological diversity. Safeguarding the integrity of this traditional interaction is vital to the protection, maintenance, and evolution of such an area.
IUCN Category VI: ‘Managed Resource Protection Area’, being a protected area managed mainly for the sustainable use of natural ecosystems. This is an area containing predominantly unmodified natural systems, managed to ensure long-term protection and maintenance of biological diversity, while providing at the same time a sustainable flow of natural products and services to meet community needs.