December 5, 1952
The general assembly of the United Nations, at its 399th plenary meeting on December 3, 1952, adopted a resolution under item 16 (a) of its agenda-Korea: Reports of the United Nations commission for the unification and rehabilitation of Korea. Under the terms of that resolution, originally sponsored by the government of India, the president of the general assembly is requested "to communicate the following proposals to the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China and to the North Korean authorities as forming a just and reasonable basis for an agreement so that an immediate cease-fire would result and be effected; to invite their acceptance of these proposals and to make a report to the general assembly during its present session and as soon as appropriate". In discharge of the duty placed upon me by the terms of that resolution, I have the honour to transmit to you the text of the resolution and to invite your acceptance of the proposals contained therein.
2. I send this message to you against the background of the casualties, the sufferings, and the destruction in Korea which are the inevitable consequence of war, and I add my personal appeal that you should give it your most thoughtful and sympathetic consideration. When the first committee of the general assembly, by an unanimous decision, agreed to treat the Korean question as a matter of urgency, its decision reflected the concern of all members of the United Nations, a concern which I am sure is shared by the peoples of the world, over the tragedy of war and devastation in Korea, and their deep desire to bring this war to an end on terms acceptable to both sides. To this end negotiations have been proceeding for some sixteen months at Panmunjom, in the course of which a wide measure of agreement on the terms of an armistice has been reached. The sole remaining issue which has not been settled in the course of these armistice negotiations concerns the principles and procedures by which the repatriation of prisoners of war can be effected.
3. In itself, the prisoners of war issue is a challenge to the fundamental humanitarian instincts which are shared by all mankind and urgently calls for solution. In camps on both
sides, human beings have been kept for long months under military detention while the lengthy negotiations concerning their fate have been continuing. There is an inescapable moral obligation on both sides in the Korean conflict to make every possible effort to ensure that these prisoners of war shall be free to return to their homelands, and their speedy return facilitated.
4. The discussion of this matter in the first committee of this assembly has made clear the general agreement in the United Nations that this problem should be dealt with and the repatriation of prisoners of war should be effected under the terms of the Geneva convention relative to the treatment of prisoners of war of August 12, 1949, under the well-established principles and practice of international law, and under the relevant provisions of the draft armistice agreement. It was also generally agreed that prisoners of war should be released from the custody of the detaining powers to a repatriation commission so that they can be free to exercise their undoubted right with respect to repatriation, and that it was inconsistent with common humanitarian principles that a detaining power should offer any hindrance to the return to their homelands of any prisoners of war. Finally, there was general agreement that the Geneva convention cannot be construed as authorizing a detaining power to employ force to effect the return of individual prisoners of war to their homelands.
5. The general assembly resolution clearly states the above principles with respect to the solution of the prisoner of war issue, and, in addition, makes concrete proposals with regard to the machinery of repatriation. It represents ideas put forward by many governments represented in the general assembly whose unanimous desire is to bring peace to Korea. The resolution can make this desire effective because its acceptance will make it possible to achieve an armistice and a complete and immediate cessation of hostilities.
6. The resolution, in addition, makes reference to the desire of the general assembly to expedite and facilitate, once an armistice is effective, the convening of a political conference provided for in article 60 of the draft armistice agreement already accepted by the military negotiators at Panmunjom.
7. It is my earnest hope that the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China will accept these proposals of the general assembly as a basis for the solution of the one remaining issue which has prevented the conclusion of an armistice during the negotiations at Panmunjom. Once this issue is solved, it will become possible to bring the fighting to an end and complete the program for a peaceful settlement in Korea leading, we must hope, towards a more general settlement which would contribute to peace in Asia and in the world.
8. The United Nations is determined to do everything possible to bring the fighting to an end in Korea. This is also the declared aim of the Central People's Government. This common aim can be achieved if the proposals which are now submitted for your consideration are, as I earnestly hope will be the case, accepted in the spirit in which they are put forward. In this hope, as president of the seventh session of the general assembly of the United Nations, I appeal to you to accept these proposals of the United Nations as forming a just and reasonable basis for an agreement which will serve to bring about a constructive and durable peace in Korea.
9. I shall look forward to receiving as soon as possible your reply to this communication, which I shall report to the general assembly when it is received.
10. In accordance with the decision of the general assembly, the text of the resolution has also been communicated to the North Korean authorities, to whom I am sending a similar message.
11. Please acccept, sir, the assurances of my highest consideration^
LESTER B. PEARSON President,
Mr. Chou En-lai,
Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China,