UPF-USA Hosts International Leadership Conference
Written by Jeanne Castillo
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Washington, D.C., United States—More than 200 leaders from 54 nations attended an International Leadership Conference (ILC) which featured the launch of a parliamentarians’ peacebuilding association known as the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP).
The international and interreligious assembly, held from November 28 to December 1, 2016, was the culmination of other ILCs that were held worldwide this year, in South Korea, Nepal, Burkina Faso, the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Zambia, and Japan.
With the theme “Addressing the Critical Challenges of Our Time: The Role of Government, Civil Society and Faith-Based Organizations,” the ILC was organized jointly by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and The Washington Times Foundation (TWTF), an affiliated organization.
The participants of the assembly, which was held in the J.W. Marriott hotel, included parliamentarians from around the world, members of the U.S. Congress, elected officials and civic, religious, policy and NGO leaders. During the four days of the conference these leaders would discuss the most pressing and challenging issues of our time, including global conflict, the breakdown of the family, and protection of the environment.
In line with the ILC’s goal of building a growing leadership network that can contribute to world peace, the participants reached across political and national lines in the search for solutions.
Monday, November 28, 2016
Richard de Sena, president of UPF-USA, acted as master of ceremonies at the opening banquet, during which leaders of UPF and TWTF expressed the goals and hopes for the conference: to forge a new era of principled leadership.
Tom McDevitt, chair of The Washington Times and of UPF-USA, encouraged networking and the exchange of “ideas that can shape nations, communities, families, characters and people.”
Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, regional chair of UPF of North America, gave a preview of the three remaining days of the conference, which would explore the critical challenges facing the world. “Our nations are at a turning point in history,” he said, “and the ideals and accumulated experience that you each bring to this gathering could very well set the course for many years ahead.”
Dr. Michael Jenkins, president of TWTF, listed the organization’s founding values of freedom, faith, family, service and citizenship, noting particularly the significance of family as the cornerstone of society, the common ground we all share, and the place where love is generated. He added that peace is born when the lines of race, culture, and religion are transcended. “How can we turn this corner and make sure this world becomes better and better?” he asked. “It takes every nation to build a better world,” he said, noting that “resentment will never be destroyed by force, but liberated by forgiveness.”
Dr. Thomas Walsh, president of UPF International, drew the connection between this conference, those that came before it, and the culminating launch of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) that would take place on November 30, “drawing together parliamentarians from all political parties and nationalities to form a global network that represents the people and every faith background.” He also invoked the guiding principle of unselfishness as the golden rule of peacebuilding.
Session I: Principles and Best Practices in Leadership and Governance
The first of nine panel sessions covered three key techniques of leadership that are critical in this time of history and generation of leaders. Each of the three panel members offered a perspective on best practices in leadership and governance.
MK Dr. Nachman Shai, a senior member of Israel’s Knesset, outlined the challenges currently faced by Israel, stressing the importance of leading with vision, courage, and accountability. He described the daily reality of conflict and the rise of terror in the Middle East, and the need for “strong, determined, and tough leadership.” The only democracy in the Middle East, Israel is revered as a major, stable power in the region and strives to “speak the language of values, democracy, human rights, and freedom,” he said.
Hon. Michael G. Aguinaldo, chair of the Commission on Audit of the Philippines, described successful initiatives under way in the Philippines that engage citizens to become part of the nation’s progress and improvement. Put in place by the previous administration in pursuit of institutionalizing open, transparent, accountable, and participatory governance, the Citizen Participatory Audit of the Philippines promotes partnership between citizens and government by forming an auditing team that assesses whether public services are delivered properly. This initiative “brings the process closer to the public so it’s something they can understand and take stock of” and increases community involvement and ownership, he said.
Sen. John Barrasso, the junior U.S. senator from Wyoming and a former orthopedic surgeon, spoke on the importance of democracy and freedom for the health of a nation and its people. If a nation has the principles of democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech in its leadership and governance, he said, “that’s helping you care for yourself.” He also noted, “If you look at the system we have in the United States, the rules are known by everyone, but the outcome is uncertain. In some countries, the rules are unknown and the outcome is certain.”
Hon. Donzella James, a member of the Georgia State Senate, spoke on leading with courage and integrity, and balancing one’s personal values and identity with being open to new perspectives.
“It can be a slippery slope when you go against your values, even just once,” she said. “You don’t become successful in government without a strict sense of personal values. It is the lens with which we view the world, and influences every personal and professional decision we make.” She quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus but a molder of consensus.” She continued, “However, as an elected official, your job is to serve everyone, not just those who agree with you. Ultimately, we cannot get anything done unless we work together and find the common denominator with people who believe differently than we do.”
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
In its first full day, the ILC discussed freedom of conscience, marriage and family, protecting the environment, and freedom and responsibility of the press.
Participants also took part in a much-anticipated highlight of the conference: the announcement of the recipients of the 2017 Sunhak Peace Prize, awarded to the person or persons who best contribute to human development in the spheres of stewardship of the environment and sustainable peace.
A theme resonating throughout the conference was the importance of engaging respectful dialogue across political and religious lines. “An overarching theme I’m hearing today is that it’s time we come together, and I think it’s particularly meaningful in the aftermath of the American election” said Hon. Bill Delahunt, a former U.S. congressman from Massachusetts, who was the moderator of Session IV. “We are at a moment when the country is divided. That’s not healthy for democracy, and if America is divided, it’s not healthy for the world. What we all realized during the course of the [recent U.S. election] campaign is that there are multiple Americas and large segments of the American population that have profound anger. We need to meet that challenge as well,” Mr. Delahunt said.
Another theme, highlighted by Ambassador R. James Woolsey Jr., a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was the need for action and the courage to face difficult issues, despite how uncomfortable or insurmountable they may seem. During lunch he gave a talk in which he invited participants to educate themselves on the threat of nuclear war. He delineated the severe consequences of such an event and expressed his hope for people to “wake up” to this issue. “We can’t duck hard problems” and “think it’s so unpleasant to work on because the consequences are so bad,” he said. According to Ambassador Woolsey, addressing this issue in a fruitful way “requires a certain spirit of rejection of the way this has been dealt with for decades.”
Session II: Securing Freedom of Conscience—A Universal Concern
Hon. Charles “Woody” Burton, a member of the Indiana House of Representatives and the driving force behind the “In God We Trust” state license plate, opened the second session by describing his experience of standing with resolve to protect freedom of speech and religion, specifically the right to practice prayer in government.
Professor Viktor Yelenskyi, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, presented historical facts and statistics demonstrating the gradual exile of religion from government and society, juxtaposed with a rising consensus that religion must be free to manifest itself in all social spheres. He summarized the state of religious freedom and peace among religions: “Historians estimate that 200 million people in the last two millennia have been killed because of religious affiliation,” he said. “Religious affiliation plays a role in 65 percent of all armed conflict today, and in only 20 percent of countries are all religious groups treated the same.”
Dr. Sam Zakhem, a former U.S. ambassador to Bahrain, expressed both positive experiences with and continued hopes for religious freedom and peace among religions. “I served as ambassador for the United States under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and served in the Colorado State Senate and House, but I’m most proud to be a UPF Ambassador for Peace,” he said.
Hon. Jose de Venecia Jr., a former speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines and chair emeritus of UPF, addressed the theme of interfaith reconciliation. He described his campaign to create an interfaith council in the United Nations that can generate ideas for ending violence in the Muslim world, as well as uniting civilizations that encompass multiple religions. “Territorial, geopolitical, and religious problems intertwine and remain a constant problem in many parts of the world,” he said, adding, “All too often, atrocities are committed in the name of religion. However, violence in the name of religion is contrary to reason and God’s nature, for there can be no religious motivation for violence.”
The session closed with a question-and-answer session. Conference participants presented thought-provoking questions to the panel, such as “What will it take to solve these problems peacefully?” “How do we talk about religion in America and highlight its role as a key source of love?” and “How do we bring religion back?” Among solutions discussed were bringing people together and encouraging a focus on similarities as well as dialogues toward reaching understanding and unity.
Session III: Why Marriage and Family Are Important for a Healthy and Stable Society
Hon. John Doolittle, a former U.S. congressman from California, moderated the third session, stating in his introduction that “we tend to idealize families, but they’re often less than ideal. However, the resilience of the family is important, even if the family is not ideal.”
Hon. Danny K. Davis, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois, gave an insightful and anecdotal talk about the value of family, speaking of his own family with great reverence. Married for 47 years, Hon. Davis said he sometimes imagines “how different life would have been” if he had not had his wife by his side. “I wouldn’t have the peace of mind, companionship, or a shoulder to lean on,” he said. He supplemented his address with thought-provoking quotes from astute thinkers, including English poet William Blake. (“I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought my brother, and I found all three.”) He concluded that “the concept of family begins to grow as you have greater experiences, and, rather than thinking of just the immediate group in the household or even extended relatives, family becomes part of what you believe, dream about, and hope for.” In his call to action he stated, “I’m hoping to convince people to spend more time together as opposed to being apart.”
Hon. Victoria Kalima, a member of the Zambian Parliament who is also her nation’s newly appointed minister of gender, talked about Zambian society, laws, issues, and programs, drawing a parallel between signs of cultural instability and resulting national instability. She insisted that “relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, and brothers and sisters should be characterized by a profound and enduring love.” She also spoke about the recent ILC in Lusaka, Zambia, and its focus on alleviating social ills currently faced by the nation, including gender-based violence, child marriage, teen pregnancy, single parenthood, and divorce. She stressed the importance of programs that empower women, so that “society can look at a girl child as someone who can receive an education, not just get married young” for the family’s financial gain. “My appeal,” she said, “is that we work together to have a healthy and stable society. I invite you to partner with us through UPF to end gender-based violence and child marriage.”
Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal, former minister for peace and reconstruction in Nepal, boldly stated that “family education determines the future destiny of the entire nation.” Hon. Dhakal presented news of the marriage rededication and Marriage Blessing movements in Nepal, which are becoming national festivals of marriage and families attended by tens of thousands of people. The former prime minister of Nepal H.E. Madhav Kumar Nepal officiated a recent marriage rededication ceremony that was attended by 70,000 people; at the time he stated that “if the family is strong, our nation is strong.”
Mr. Kenneth Muhammed El, the commissioner of the Housing Authority in Rowan County, North Carolina, like Hon. Davis, spoke about his marriage and family, and then asked forward-thinking questions such as “How do we raise expectations of marriage?” and “How do we address the issue that ruin begins in the home?” He noted that our challenge as a nation is to elevate women and acknowledge women as the “key to life.” He said that “marriage needs to be dissociated from trends and fashions, and reinstated as a sacred extension of the Creator.”
Mrs. Cheryl Wetzstein, the manager of special sections for The Washington Times, closed the session with statistics and facts about family issues faced by the United States, including falling marriage rates, the “tsunami of pornography causing problems between men and women in their romantic relationships,” and alternative family forms. She provided evidence for why traditional marriage is the best family structure for children, adults, and society.
Session IV: Protecting Our Environment—Public and Private Sector Solutions
Hon. Rob Wittman, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia, opened the fourth session with a talk on the responsibility of both the public and private sectors to protect the environment for future generations. He expressed his interest in seeking opportunities for these two sectors to join in partnership in this joint mission.
Hon. Kessai Note, a former president of the Marshall Islands, described the fragile environment of his Pacific island nation and its susceptibility to sea level rises caused by climate change. Environmental negligence is “already creating insurmountable challenges to our environment, economy, and way of life,” he said. “The entire Marshall Islands could become submerged in water in less than 100 years, and neighboring countries in the Pacific have similar conditions.”
Dr. Richard Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, took a different approach to the issue of climate change. He presented thorough scientific evidence that favors avoiding extremism in today’s campaigns on the greenhouse effect and global warming, and he relayed the perspective that the issue of global warming is “almost an entirely political one.”
“The most important and useful measure for both the public and private sphere will be the ending of anti-carbon-dioxide climate alarmism,” he said. “The fact that the alarm shifted from global cooling to global warming in the 1980s provides ample evidence that the issue was not with climate per se, but market control of the energy sector.”
Hon. Richard T. Schulze, a former U.S. congressman from Pennsylvania, told anecdotes about his lifetime of “pride, enjoyment, and love of the outdoors” and how he came to be involved in wildlife conservation. “In America, the conservation attitude is that the user pays and the public profits,” he said. “The amount of money that the hunter, fisher, and outdoorsman pay into the funds for outdoor conservation is enormous.” On a more emotional level, he told the story of a friend who came closer to his daughter in three hours of hunting together than he had in his entire life. “It’s not about the hunting,” he said. “It’s about the personal relationship that such things build, the kind of relationship that overarches politics and religious differences.” He closed by saying that the “most effective and sensible approach to good stewardship of the earth and its inhabitants is to continue the work we’ve done in conservation, not only for sports and the outdoors but for all people of the earth.”
Session V: The Role of Media—Freedom and Responsibility of the Press
Mr. Guy Taylor, a senior writer on national security issues at The Washington Times, moderated the final session of the day, about the media as the “absolute intersection of technological change and the human ability to speak truth to power.” He challenged participants to deliberate whether the media are having “a positive or a corrosive effect on our collective ability to provide honest journalism.”
Hon. Tim Huelskamp, a U.S. congressman from Kansas, gave his perspective on the U.S. media and the evolution of the Internet. He invited participants to practice an active awareness of the biases that exist in the mainstream media and to be mindful of the nature of the media in terms of their geographic concentration and motivations, and how those factors affect the distribution of information.
Hon. Biman Prasad, a member of Parliament in Fiji, enlightened participants on the reality of freedom of the press around the world. In many regions, he said, the media serve primarily to “amplify the voices of elected representatives in government.” He stressed that “democracy cannot flourish in an environment where media freedom is restricted.”
Mr. Humphrey Hawksley, a foreign correspondent with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as well as an author, spoke about the role of the media in Europe, particularly the effects of uninformed popular sentiment promulgated through social media. He also spoke of “the post-truth era,” in which “political campaigns are based on facts that are untrue and policies that are unachievable, yet they garner votes in the millions.” He brought up the concept of an echo chamber, defined as “a newspaper or TV [station] that agrees with or bolsters your point of view.” He explained that “voters prefer the certainty of the echo chamber to the muddle of both extremities,” and he challenged the audience to “find a Tweet or somebody on Facebook whose views you totally abhor. Find out where they’re coming from and what their weakness is” in order to move beyond the safety of your own standpoint.
Mr. Charles Hurt, a political columnist for The Washington Times, closed the session by speaking to the role of the media, mainstream and non-mainstream, including everyone who is participating in this age of social media. He brought up thought-provoking ideas, such as the fact that the U.S. president-elect is very active on social media. “I have faith that people have a voice and greater access to shaping the media than ever before,” he said.
Sunhak Peace Prize Recipients Are Announced
During the dinner break, the names of the two individuals who have been chosen to receive the 2017 Sunhak Peace Prize were announced.
These two individuals, who have devoted their lives to helping the world’s refugees, Italian doctor Dr. Gino Strada and Afghan educator Dr. Sakena Yacoobi.
The awards program was presented by Dr. Thomas Walsh, chair of the Sunhak Peace Prize Foundation, who explained the background of the prize and its vision to inspire “living with a sense of responsibility that envisions making this world better for future generations.”
An informational video introduced the founders, the vision, and this year’s theme of the Sunhak Peace Prize: the global refugee crisis. The video presented alarming statistics, notably that one in 113 people in the world today is a refugee and that over half of refugees are children.
Dr. Il-Sik Hong, chair of the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee, announced the names of the 2017 laureates, who were chosen from a pool of 225 nominees from 76 nations.
Dr. Gino Strada has provided medical and surgical care to the victims of war and poverty and to refugees around the world. His achievements in advancing medical and surgical aid over the past 28 years are widely known. His work and compassion for humanity have taken him beyond national borders, even into the epicenter of conflict in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Africa. His work has brought healing and relief to 8 million people around the world. Dr. Strada maintains that “the right to be cured” is a basic and inalienable human right, and, on that basis, in 1994 he established the international humanitarian organization known as Emergency, which has been operating more than 60 emergency medical facilities in 17 nations.
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi developed an innovative solution to the refugee settlement problem through education. She has been widely recognized for developing educational programs linked to refugee resettlement, working especially in Afghan refugee camps that are put under additional stress by years of war. Dr. Yacoobi is a committed educator who has devoted herself to women’s education. She has developed an innovative vision for education in the Islamic world, based on her belief that “educating girls is educating future generations.” In 1985 she founded the Afghan Institute of Learning, which provides education and health services for more than 13 million refugees. She also operates more than 80 underground schools in hopes of improving the rights and social status of women in Islamic society, working even at the risk of her own life. Presently she is actively assisting the international community, including the United Nations, as an expert in countering refugee crises. Her achievements led to her being nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr. Hong said, “Today, facing the largest refugee crisis since World War II, the citizens of the world must remember the value of each human being, which binds us together. Through solidarity and cooperation we need to solve this problem together.”
Hon. Dan Burton, a former U.S. congressman from Indiana, led the audience in applause for the founders and the selection committee of the Sunhak Peace Prize, and spoke on the impact of this year’s award. “This world is in real turmoil right now,” he said. “We’ve got millions of people that have left their homes in fear for their lives.” He continued, “These two people who have been nominated tonight have gone way above and beyond to care for those who have become refugees. … It’s our responsibility to help these refugees around the world. It’s a tragedy, and we’re all involved.”
The prize includes a cash award totaling 1 million U.S. dollars. According to Dr. Walsh, “Both recipients have indicated that they will roll their prize money directly into their organizations and their work.” The awards ceremony will be held on February 3, 2017, in Seoul, South Korea.
The Sunhak Peace Prize Foundation was established in 2015 to promote and develop the Sunhak Peace Prize, an annual award given to individuals or organizations that have contributed substantially to peace and human development for the sake of future generations. The Sunhak Peace Prize was founded by UPF Co-Founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon to recognize key movers and shakers for peace who are leaving a lasting legacy and to honor selfless individuals who recognize family values as the cornerstone of society.
In 2016, the inaugural Sunhak Peace Prize was awarded to President Anote Tong of Kiribati for raising awareness about the global impact of climate change, and to Dr. Modadugu V. Gupta of India for being a leader in the development of aquaculture in developing nations.
In the evening of November 29, the conference participants attended a performance at the National Theatre by the world-renowned Little Angels Children’s Folk Ballet of Korea. This performance conveyed the peace-loving spirit of the Korean people and the beautiful culture and arts produced throughout Korea’s 5,000-year history. Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, co-founder of the Little Angels troupe, was present at the performance, as well as Dr. Sun Jin Moon, the chair of UPF International.
The Little Angels’ performance was held to benefit the Children’s National Hospital, located in Washington, D.C. At the end of the performance Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, the regional chair of UPF for North America, presented to the hospital a check for $25,000 on behalf of the founders of the Little Angels.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
The panel discussions during the third day of the conference, November 30, focused on national and global security, foreign policy, solutions to terrorism, and global collaboration.
Session VI: Northeast Asia Issues and Solutions
A diverse range of views were expressed at this session, in which speakers addressed the issue of extremism and offered their expertise on the political landscape of Northeast Asia.
Mr. Hitoshi Tanaka, a senior fellow at the Japan Center for International Exchange and chair of the Institute for International Strategy at the Japan Research Institute, spoke of endeavors to discourage “North Korea’s nuclear ambition” and China’s activities to “revise the status quo” through a union between Japan, the United States, and South Korea. He observed that the “importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance has been increasing” and said he hopes the new U.S. administration “will solidify our partnership.”
Ambassador Joseph Robert De Trani, former special envoy to the Six Party Talks and president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, spoke about his work in negotiations with North Korea and described that nation’s “extensive nuclear program,” an issue that “has to and can be resolved peacefully.” Ambassador De Trani encouraged perseverance in addressing this growing threat as well as the human rights issue in North Korea.
Hon. Matt Salmon, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona, described his experience living in and visiting Northeast Asia, and his recent involvement in hearings regarding the North Korean regime. He emphasized the importance of developing a “foreign policy consistent with our values and interests” in this new administration, particularly regarding the U.S. policy for Asia. He called for a “focus on strong leadership” and “strategic clarity” as the “basis for our goals abroad,” and also prescribed a “proactive approach” when it comes to addressing aggressors and building strong allies. Not only do we need to support like-minded allies, he said, but also we need to “encourage them to overcome historical obstacles to strengthen relationships with each other.”
Hon. Jong-seong Lim, a member of the National Assembly of South Korea, addressed the implications of the new Trump administration on the U.S.-Korean alliance, stating his hope that “we can have clear ideas of [incoming U.S. President Donald] Trump’s policies regarding the Northeast Asia region.” Over the past six years, South Korea and the United States have “forged an unbreakable bond,” he said, but there is a certain concern that “American interests will be placed ahead of other nations.” Hon. Lim urged that the U.S.-Korean alliance be strengthened and implored the ILC participants to partner with UPF to encourage this trend.
Session VII: Global and Local Responses to Terrorism
Mr. Bill Gertz, senior editor of the conservative Web site The Washington Free Beacon, moderated this panel. Speakers offered visions and practical steps toward unity on this issue.
Hon. Robert Pittenger, a U.S. congressman from North Carolina, spoke on the importance of courage and clarity when facing terrorism. “It’s easy to be complacent,” he said, “because we don’t know where we’ll be tomorrow.” He named practical components of an anti-terror strategy, including “stopping the flow of money,” developing “good intelligence on the ground,” and hosting forums around the world for “information sharing.” He concluded that “what we must do is collaborate together.”
Hon. Madhav Kumar Nepal, a former prime minister of Nepal, described the reality of the “disruption and damage of war” and stated that, fortunately, Nepal has “ended its state of insurgence by peaceful means” through a “comprehensive peace process.”
Hon. Dana Rohrabacher, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California, recalled his experience fighting communism, the “threat to civilization” of his generation. Because the United States is made up of every race, religion and ethnic group and is united by a love of liberty, he said, “America understands that God gave us the job of leading the way in destroying enemies of civilization.” He noted that today’s primary threat to the peace and security of civilization is terrorism, and that again America is central to defending the safety of the world. “It’s up to the people of the United States, the government, to lead the way, because we represent humankind.”
MK Issawi Frej, an Israeli Arab member of Israel’s Knesset from the Meretz party, admitted that, as a Muslim, it’s “not easy” and “not comfortable” to hear people connecting terrorism to Islam. “Terrorism is the enemy of all of us,” he said. “In order to be a terrorist, you can be Muslim, Christian, Jewish, any religion.” He called on everyone to imagine if each Muslim had to “prove that he is not a terrorist,” and he encouraged everyone to “join each other to fight terrorism” and not to “fight hate with hate.”
Mr. Pinhas Inbari, a journalist and senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, spoke about the nature of the conflict in Syria, and Hon. Shri Bhubaneswar Kalita, a member of Parliament in India, spoke of different forms of terrorism around the globe. Hon. Kalita stated that “the only answer to terrorism is dialogue for lasting peace” and that a “stronghold is not a long-term solution.” Because parliamentarians represent and connect people, they can help resolve and prevent conflict, he said.
The session activated several members of the audience to line up at the subsequent question-and-answer session and give their perspectives on terrorism.
Session VIII: Foreign Policy Priorities for the U.S. and Global Community
Hon. Jose de Venecia Jr., a former speaker of the House of Representatives in the Philippines and chair emeritus of UPF, opened the session by naming top issues in today’s world and proposing models of global synergy to address them. “We meet at the decisive juncture of American and world history,” a time of transformation that “will chart history’s course,” he said. Hon. Venecia described the Asian Parliamentary Assembly consisting of 40 members of Parliament, and his hopes for the organization to be “the frontrunner of an eventual Asian Parliament like the European Parliament.”
Hon. Jean M. Augustine, a former commissioner of fairness in the Canadian province of Ontario, described the nature of foreign policy in Canada. “The basis of what we do connects nicely with the work of UPF,” she said of her nation’s determination to work together with other nations, embrace the global community, and, currently, provide shelter and education to Syrian refugees. “Canadian participants at the ILC are happy to have this opportunity to dialogue and hear perspectives on issues,” she concluded.
Hon. Mark Meadows, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina, closed the session with a talk on the change of the U.S. administration and provided insight into “what we could look forward to in terms of foreign policy changes.” He explained that there is a sense that the nation is becoming “isolationist in rhetoric,” but there is importance in “strong alliances and daily involvement in matters of mutual interest.” He added that he “[doesn’t] see that changing” and said that there is a “real commitment in a long-term, bipartisan way” to clarify foreign policy.
Launch of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace
A bipartisan group of former U.S. congressmen—Dan Burton, R-Indiana; Bill Delahunt, D-Massachusetts; Todd Tiahrt, R-Kansas; and John Doolittle, R-California—invited colleagues from Capitol Hill to a reception in the Russell Senate Office Building on the evening of November 30, 2016. The event was held in honor of 56 legislators from nearly as many countries who had come to Washington to form a global organization of parliamentarians who want to work beyond the boundaries of partisanship to address pivotal issues involving terrorism, the environment, freedom of conscience and other pivotal issues common to all nations.
At the event, held in the Kennedy Caucus Room, Dr. Thomas Walsh, the president of Universal Peace Federation, introduced the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace and its co-chairs, Hon. Dan Burton and Hon. Jose De Venecia Jr., former speaker of the House of the Philippines. The two co-chairs lauded the organization’s purpose, calling for those who guide policy in their nations to look beyond their borders to their neighbors worldwide who have the same concerns as they do. “The world is a global community, and together we can make positive differences,” Hon. De Venecia said.
The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, who founded the parliamentarians association. She was introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate.
“Dr. Moon is truly an amazing woman, and one that I deeply respect,” Sen. Hatch said. “She is a champion of peace and someone who I hope will have a lasting impact for years to come.”
Dr. Moon spoke of the responsibility of global leaders to work together to create peace and called for a new and international commitment to unselfish good governance. She spoke of the challenges that have stood in the way of world peace throughout human history to this day, and introduced the proposal for an International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP). “We look at this world and see unspeakable, inarticulate misery happening all around the globe,” she said. “This is impossible to solve with mere human power.”
She concluded: “All of you esteemed leaders, members of parliament, beloved leaders who have gathered here, members of parliament from all over the world, your responsibility is great and important. You are extremely important, especially in this era when a new providence is unfolding. More than just one person, you who represent the people, you are the mediator. God needs each one of you.”
Following Dr. Moon’s remarks, Hon. Burton, Hon. Doolittle and Hon. Delahunt presented the ILC 2016 Exemplary Leadership Awards to Hon. Matt Salmon, a U.S. congressman from Arizona, for his efforts for peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region, and to Hon. Danny K. Davis, a U.S. congressman from Illinois, for his work for religious freedom and securing opportunity for all people.
Thursday, December 1, 2016
The fourth day of the conference had just one panel discussion before a final lunch and the departure of the participants.
Session IX: New Leadership and New Scenarios for Global Collaboration
Dr. Alexandre Mansourov, a professor of Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins University, began the last session by speaking of the United States’ transition into a new administration. He expressed his worry about the government’s blind spots—occurrences of low probability yet high impact. “These disruptive events shake and shift the international system and create a new world way,” he said, adding that, though it would be nice for people to remain in their comfort zones, it’s important to think about the future.
Hon. Matt Salmon, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona, commended UPF for its unparalleled “ability to be able to really achieve meaningful peace in this world” and to “bring disparate organizations, countries, parties and religions” together along the way. He also focused on the upcoming administration shift and foreign policy, stating his belief that “solidarity with our friends and allies … is incredibly important.” He closed by calling on politicians to not ignore the threat of terrorism.
Following Hon. Salmon’s talk, Mr. Tom McDevitt, chair of The Washington Times, read and presented a plaque to Hon. Salmon which honored him with the Excellence in Leadership Award for working to bridge the gap between Asia and the United States.
Dr. Thomas Walsh, president of UPF International, then remarked on his observation of “a strong tendency in a growing interfaith movement, a movement of receptivity, and a desire to learn without feeling threatened from other faith traditions.” On the one hand, he said, “Some people are becoming almost hybrid in their spirituality, of being a Christian who has felt enriched by Buddhism”; on the other hand, “we also feel that in many traditions there is some erosion, dilution, or threat through secularization, as well as other forms of evangelism that are threatening our identities.” He stated UPF’s goal in easing these conflicts—specifically that the ILC is moving in a direction “where we’re learning from one another.” He encouraged participants to engage in ongoing conversations between people of varying political standpoints, different faiths and backgrounds, and to find common ground to create harmony.
Professor Akiko Yamanaka, vice minister of foreign affairs in Japan, spoke on the “trilateral alliance between the U.S., Japan, and Korea” and the key role of “preventative diplomacy” in combating “human-induced disaster.” She concluded her message by quoting Aristotle, who said, “It is more important to organize peace than to win a war, but the fruit of victory will be lost soon if the peace is not well organized.”
“Let’s walk and work together for the better world community together,” she said.
Hon. Joe Wilson, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina, spoke on the importance of facing international terrorism. He described his military background and the collaboration of one of his units with Afghan troops to fight terrorism. “That’s the kind of service that we need—where it’s not telling people what to do, but it’s working with our allies around the world to make a difference,” he said.
Hon. Richard T. Schulze, a former U.S. congressman from Pennsylvania, gave brief remarks, speaking of his first visit to Congress for a class trip during the Ford administration. Hon. Jose de Venecia Jr., co-chair of the ILC, then closed the session with recommendations for future collaboration, calling for “a session to see how we can advance causes of freedom and democracy, human rights, and our common battle against poverty and ISIS, and the forces of bio-level destruction.”
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