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Participation in Multilateral Treaties

International Organizations

  • Before its accession to the United Nations (UN) in 1991, the Republic of Korea participated in several United Nations specialized agencies and other international organizations.
    However, since joining the UN, its activities in international organizations have increased tremendously.
    The Republic of Korea now participates in the treaty-making process at many international organizations and is also a party to the constitutional treaties and privileges and immunities agreements of international organizations such as the UN and its specialized agencies, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), etc.
    The Republic of Korea has also concluded 229 bilateral agreements with international organizations in various areas of cooperation.

International Humanitarian Law

  • International humanitarian law (IHL), also known as the law of war or the law of armed conflict, is a set of rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict. IHL rests on the premise that, even if war is unavoidable, there are certain humanitarian obligations that must be observed by all belligerents. By restricting the methods and means of warfare and protecting the wounded, prisoners of war and civilians during armed conflicts and occupation, IHL also helps to facilitate the healing process after the cessation of hostilities. With the outburst of civil wars in post-Cold War era, the dissemination and enforcement of IHL has assumed increased significance. The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are international treaties that contain the most important rules of international humanitarian law.

    To ensure compliance with IHL, States are under a general obligation to disseminate, implement and enforce it within their territory. Many concerned ministries within the government, including the military, are involved in fulfilling this obligation. The Red Cross, civil society and NGOs also play important roles by complementing the primary role of the government.

    The Republic of Korea is a party to all major IHL treaties, such as the four Geneva Conventions and their two Additional Protocols. In 2004, Korea declared its acceptance of the competence of the International Fact-Finding Commission in accordance with Article 90 of the first Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions. In 2002, the Korean Government established the National Committee on International Humanitarian Law for the purpose of conducting research and educating the Korean public about international humanitarian law. The Korean Government is committed to continuing its role in the development and dissemination of international humanitarian law and is cooperating with the Korean Red Cross and the International Committee of Red Cross in this respect.

Anti-terrorism Conventions

  • Terrorism is a security challenge that recognizes no borders and threatens all peoples. The international community will not tolerate any form of terrorism, regardless of who is involved, where it occurs or whatever its purposes. Through the Security Council and UN General Assembly, States have been coordinating their counter-terrorism efforts. In 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, marking the first time countries around the world have agreed to a common strategic approach to fight terrorism.

    An important part of anti-terrorism efforts is the work of the United Nations in the establishment of a legal framework for the prevention and suppression of terrorism. Thirteen international conventions have been elaborated within the framework of the United Nations system relating to different areas of counter-terrorism, such as the safety of civil aviation, hostage situations, crimes against diplomats and other internationally protected persons, protection of nuclear material, marking of plastic explosives, terrorist bombings, nuclear terrorism, the safety of maritime navigation and the financing of terrorism. In addition, a draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism is being negotiated in the Sixth Committee of the United Nations.

    The Republic of Korea actively supports and fully cooperates in all international efforts to fight terrorism. It is a party to 13 international anti-terrorism conventions including the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. The Republic of Korea is also participating in the drafting of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

    The Republic of Korea is also actively participating in international efforts to counter terrorist financing. In support of these efforts, Korea has enacted anti-money laundering legislation, the Financial Transaction Reports Act and Proceeds of Crime Act, which have been in effect since November 28, 2001. In addition, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism has been in effect since March 18 2004.

Space Law

  • The Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) is the primary international forum for the development of laws and principles governing outer space. The Committee has concluded five international legal instruments and five sets of major legal principles governing space-related activities. These five treaties provide for international legal principles such as the non-appropriation of outer space by any one country, the peaceful use of outer space, the freedom of exploration, liability for damage caused by space objects, the safety and rescue of spacecraft and astronauts, the prevention of harmful interference with space activities and the environment, the notification and registration of space activities, scientific investigation and exploitation of natural resources in outer space and the settlement of disputes. The legal principles adopted by the UN General Assembly address the application of international law and promotion of international cooperation and understanding in space activities, the dissemination and exchange of information through transnational direct television broadcasting via satellites and remote satellite observation of Earth and general standards regulating the safe use of nuclear power sources necessary for the exploration and use of outer space.

    The Republic of Korea is a party to the four major international conventions related to space law: the Outer Space Treaty, the Rescue Agreement, the Liability Convention and the Registration Convention.

Environment

  • Acknowledging that the pollution of the environment is a serious global concern, the Republic of Korea is actively participating in the development of international legal instruments in a wide variety of areas to help protect the global environment.

    The Republic of Korea is a party to 46 international environmental conventions, including major environmental conventions such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.

Education and Culture

  • The Republic of Korea has become a party to eight conventions in the field of education and culture, including the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, since it acceded to the Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1950.

    As a member of UNESCO, the Republic of Korea is involved in the process of drafting and adopting conventions concerning education and culture, such as the Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

Disarmament and Nuclear Energy

  • Disarmament and non-proliferation are indispensable for creating a security environment favorable to ensuring human development. Two main international bodies addressing these issues are the United Nations and the IAEA. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has served as an intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear technology worldwide since its establishment in 1957. The IAEA is the depositary of key international conventions and legal agreements including the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The NPT establishes a safeguards system under the responsibility of the IAEA, which also plays a central role under the Treaty in areas of technology transfer for peaceful purposes. Several major disarmament international conventions have been adopted in the past several decades, including the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). At the UN, states continue to discuss disarmament and negotiate new conventions on new disarmament issues and additional protocols for existing disarmament conventions.

    The Republic of Korea is a party to most of these major disarmament international conventions, including NPT, CWC, BWC and CCW, and has actively cooperated with the IAEA and other international organizations in this field as well as concluding several bilateral cooperation agreements with these organizations. It has also ratified the CTBT, although this treaty has not yet entered into force. The Republic of Korea is continuing to accede to new conventions or protocols and is also participating in principal international forums on this issue, including the Conference on Disarmament.