The Korean War Armistice Agreement

The year 1953 marked the end of a brutal and some say senseless war that claimed the lives of more than 2.5 million Koreans and more than 36,000 American soldiers. The year 1953 also marked the beginning of the Korean War Armistice Agreement that sought to stop the Korean War and insure a complete cessation of hostilities and all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement could be achieved. The Commander-in-Chief and the United Nations Command on one side and the Supreme Commander of the Korean Peoples Army and the Commander of the Chinese People’s Volunteers on the other, individually, collectively and mutually agreed to accept and be bound by the conditions set forth in the Korean War Armistice Agreement.

The Korean War Armistice Agreement was signed on July 27, 1953, but it had been in negotiations for nearly two years before it was finally signed. When the negotiations were finally over the agreement the Korean War Armistice Agreement consisted of five articles providing for a suspension of all open hostilities, a system for the transfer of POW’s and a set demarcation line with a 2.4 Mile “buffer” or demilitarization zone.

The five articles of the Korean War Armistice Agreement covered: military demarcation lines and demilitarized zone (article I), concrete arrangements for Cease-Fire and Armistice (II), arrangement relating to prisoners of war (III), recommendations to the governments concerned on both sides (IV) and miscellaneous conditions (V).

It has been more than 50 years since the Korean War Armistice Agreement was signed and what was intended to be a temporary measure is currently the only truce that prevents resuming the war. In 1954, an unsuccessful attempt was made to create a formal peace agreement. To date, no peace treaty has ever been signed and the demilitarization zone (DMZ) is still defended today by South Korean and American troops on one side and North Korean troops on the other.

The Korean War Armistice agreement is by far one of the most notable agreements in history, not only because it put an end to the bloodshed and fighting, but also because it is the only Armistice in history where all sides have yet to sign a peace treaty. An armistice agreement was signed after World War II and several peace treaties followed. To date, Japan and Russia are the only countries that have not signed a peace treaty following World War II. The most famous Armistice in history, following World War I, was signed November 11, 1918 “on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.” The Versailles Peace Treaty was signed June 28, 1919, seven months after the Armistice to end World War I was signed.

An armistice is needed in order to allow a fair amount of time for all sides of a conflict to establish a peace treaty. Peace treaties may take months or even years to establish and then to agree on. In the case of North and South Korea, it seems to be taking decades. Who knows if a peace treaty will ever be signed?

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