Seoul, Korea—Keynote speakers in Plenary Session II of the Third World Summit addressed the international conference’s theme of “Peace and Human Development.”
The session took place on August 28, 2015, in the InterContinental Grand Seoul Parnas hotel. Before introducing the speakers and asking them to reflect on the theme based on their experience in their nation and region, moderator Dr. Thomas Walsh introduced the UPF perspective on peace and human development. He said, “Universal, spiritual principles have a role to play in resolving conflict and reconciling the divided human family.” He outlined the core values of UPF as “the bedrock of our activities,” including: 1) We are one human family created by God, 2) The highest achievements of men and women are rooted in spiritual and moral development, 3) The family is the “school of love and peace,” 4) Peace comes through dialogue, cooperation and principled action, and, 5) Service to others is the foundation of the good society.
Based on these universal values, Dr. Walsh explained the work of UPF in five areas critically needed “to build a world of sustainable peace.” These areas are: 1) Interfaith Peacebuilding through dialogue and interfaith conferences, 2) Peace and Security, which emphasizes “track two” diplomacy, 3) Marriage and Family educational programs on the personal and social benefits of marriage, 4) Youth and Service service-learning programs to bring together youth from different cultures and religions in order to promote mutual understanding and respect, and 5) support for UN and NGO initiatives, such as the World Interfaith Harmony Week, Women’s Day, International Day of Families, and the International Day of Peace.
“The UPF is fully dedicated to building a world of peace in which everyone can live in freedom, harmony, cooperation and prosperity,” Dr. Walsh said. “UPF applies these principles respecting the opinions of both sides of conflicts. This is our approach in the conflict in the Middle East, division in North-South Korea, current crisis in Ukraine.
It has been our commitment to promote constructive dialogue with all the players, including Israel and the Arab states through the Middle East Peace Initiative, Russia and Ukraine through Europe-Eurasia Dialogue, North and South Korea through the Northeast Asia Peace Initiative. Creating bridges of peace and win-win strategies allow UPF to serve as an important global mediator.”
Hon. Dan Burton, House of Representatives (1983-2013), United States, said: “We all want peace and freedom, but the world is shrinking; regional threats are no longer regional—they’re global.” The former Indiana congressman said the best strategy to deal with radical extremism is to recall the legacy of the late President Ronald Reagan, whose pillar of security policy was “peace through strength.” He reminded the participants that the hostages in Iran were released minutes after President Reagan took his oath of office.
“Iran knew he was a man of strength, and that’s why they were released,” he said. The radical elements operating around the world do so with impunity because they perceive their opponents as weak. Congressman Burton said he opposes the Iran nuclear deal because it will give the Iranians further “initiative to push their radical agenda.” Strong leadership is needed all around the world “to safeguard the freedoms that we all hold dear,” he said.
H.E. Leonid Kravchuk, president (1991-1994), Ukraine, recalled a previous visit to Korea and his surprise at the country’s progress and economic development since then. He shared how touched he felt by how much Koreans want to unite the peninsula. In particular, he recalled a speech by a member of the Korean Parliament who tearfully thanked everyone who had come thousands of kilometers from other countries to support all Koreans in their quest to unite the country. He said, “Ukrainians truly know clearly what the Koreans feel when their country is divided.”
The former president described the events between Ukraine and Russia in the past two years. He said that according to figures provided by the United Nations, 6,832 persons (both military and civilians) have been killed, 17,087 persons have been injured, and more than 1.5 million people have been forced to leave their homes since relations between the two nations worsened. The president concluded on an optimistic note: “I am grateful to UPF and its efforts to build bridges between all sides.
I am confident that we can build a culture of peace, because its formation is impossible without the joint efforts of all components of human society: governmental and international organizations, public and educational institutions, religious and interreligious institutions, as well as leaders in all spheres of human activity.”
Hon. Amarilis Santana, senator, Dominican Republic, briefed the participants about her country and its unique situation of sharing the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Although there is a common history of colonialism, the two nations maintain distinct languages, cultures and political/economic systems. The senator proudly described her country as a “democratically developing country. … Their national dance is the merengue; [it is] a leading tourist destination in the Caribbean and the land of top baseball players.”
The country is a signatory to all U.N. treaties, especially those related to human rights. The Dominican Republic is facing many obstacles to social development, namely, unemployment, organized crime, political instability, unequal land distribution and, most seriously, a lack of the values that unite the family.
Senator Santana said she remains optimistic about the nation’s future, however, and reported about an initiative from the Senate that will promote social development and benefit all segments of society.
“We want to break the vicious cycle of poverty. We want to build schools across the country and provide incentives to bring businesses to a Duty Free Trade Zone.” She also spoke about resolutions that would prevent and eradicate domestic violence. She serves on the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality.
The senator is committed to building a culture of peace. “The family is based on love. It is the principal channel for values. … The construction of peace is our responsibility. Let us promote the values which are the basis for sharing and well-being. Let us transform ourselves,” she said.
Hon. Jose de Venecia, Jr., chair, International Conference of Asian Political Parties, Philippines, spoke about the proposal for an Interreligious Council at the United Nations, which he made to the U.N. General Assembly in 2004.
“Irrespective of race, religion, culture or country,” the council will “promote together a global culture of peace and mutual understanding,” he said. The former speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives credited Dr. Sun Myung Moon as “a pioneer in these great initiatives.” The speaker said the world’s religions must play a greater role in world affairs and offered several examples, including the Sunni-Shiite issue and the emergence of ISIS-ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
He called on the leaders of Islam, representing the Sunnis and Shiites, to “meet in Mecca and bring about the beginnings of reconciliation and the end of violence in the lands of Islam.” He called for “no new Cold War in the Asia-Pacific.” That region, he said, does not want to play either the “American Card” or the “China Card.” Instead, he said that the differences between the United States and China must be resolved through “diplomacy, overwhelming humility and understanding.”
He recently met with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Bishop Sergey of the Moscow Region Diocese, and proposed a meeting between the Russian Orthodox Church, the Vatican and Catholic, Protestant and other Christian churches in the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa to “implore their governments not to allow a revival of the Cold War and to work for a new dawn of enduring peace in the 21st century.”
Regarding the Korean Peninsula, he urged the Six-Party Talks be revived. Just as the two Germanys and the two Vietnams were united, he believes the two Koreas can merge in “a unique federated system under common inclusive leadership.” The countries of East Asia and the Asia-Pacific region should be encouraged to dialogue with the world's principal religions. “This is perhaps the formula for building global and regional peace that will endure.”
He supports the Universal Peace Federation and called on governments, parliaments, political parties, civil society organizations to “promote peace and reconciliation, cooperation, humility, dialogue and pluralism, urge tolerance among our nations and peoples, understand the diversity of our cultures and religious beliefs—for indeed, in the last analysis, except for diversity in the color of our skin, we all belong to one human family under God.”
Ambassador Christopher Hill, dean, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, United States, and former U.S. ambassador to Iraq (2009-10), Korea (2004-05), Poland (2000-04) and Macedonia (1996-99), expressed his appreciation to UPF and its activities for the promotion of peace around the world.
He congratulated the organization for choosing Korea as the venue for the World Summit. “I cannot think of a more appropriate country to discuss peace than Korea, a country that has known the ravages of war and still feels the terrible consequences of unfinished business,” he said, referring to the continued state of war that officially exists. Peace is threatened all across the world, including the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. “Peace is not so simple,” he said. “It’s complex; it requires dialogue, the building of structures, and political compromises.”
The diplomatic process is always the preferred option, but “we also need to have strength. We should not negotiate out of fear.” The ambassador defined strength not only in military terms but on “the bedrock of values,” meaning the principles that give structure and purpose to a nation.
Referring to the situation with China, the ambassador said it is imperative that a “common language” and “firmness and dialogue” are used to move negotiations forward.
Similarly with North Korea, “People need to know that North Korea is not just an American problem, or that only the ROK [Republic of Korea] can solve it, nor China,” he said. “That is why the Six-Party Talks is a good process.” The ambassador emphasized that in this era, global problems require global solutions.