Peace and Security
Southeast Asia Peace Initiative Promoted in Bangkok
Written by Dr. Robert Kittel, UPI Correspondent
Monday, July 28, 2008
Bangkok, Thailand - UPF’s Southeast Asia Peace Initiative (SEAPI) was launched at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok on July 28, 2008. SEAPI will support the UN’s mission to secure peace, achieve the Millennium Development Goals, develop its Peacebuilding Commission, and encourage interreligious understanding, dialogue among civilizations, and the development of a culture of peace.
This peace initiative is the newest of many such projects sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation that are global in scope and local in focus.
Hon. Jose de Venecia, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, and Dr. Thomas G. Walsh, UPF Secretary General, traveled to Thailand specifically to launch this Southeast Asia Peace Initiative and to convene a two-day International Leadership Conference (ILC). Four hundred participants from 20 Asian nations attended the seminar. UPF has an international network of half a million Ambassadors for Peace worldwide.
Specific to the Southeast Asia region, SEAPI will work with the UN, nation-states, and civil society to contribute from a track II approach. These efforts will address specific regional issues, such as:
1. Forging a path to reconciliation over the disputed temple on the Thai-Cambodia border,
2. Peaceful resolution of the Muslim-Buddhist tensions in southern Thailand,
3. Continued development and peace in East Timor,
4. Formation of a unity government in Myanmar,
5. Reconciliation in Thailand among the political parties, for the sake of national integrity,
6. Peaceful resolution of the Taiwan Strait issue, and
7. Development of an interreligious council within the ASEAN.
While delivering the Keynote Address just prior to the launching of SEAPI, the Philippine Speaker declared emphatically that “religious harmony is the only basis for world peace.” Historical attempts to set up regimes that were atheistic and materialist failed miserably.
H.E. Chavarat Charvnirakul, the Minister of Social Development and Human Security for the Government of Thailand, was the Chief Guest at the conference. In his Opening Address he said "we must find universal values that can link us both to our collective past and common destiny." He called for closer dialogue among Asian nations, even coining a new term for a possible regional alliance—the United Asian Nation.
Over the next two days, July 28-29, conference delegates participating in this first South and Southeast Asia ILC deliberated and discussed various aspects of the theme, "Toward a New Paradigm of Leadership and Good Governance for Development and Peace."
Of particular significance was a delegation of 20 participants from Nepal. They represented 11 political parties and five religious traditions. The leader of the delegation, Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal from the Nepal Family Party, explained to the conference that “UPF-Nepal coordinated the South Asia Peace Initiative programs to support the on-going peace-building process in my country.”
The result was an astonishing parallel between UPF-sponsored events and the political developments that have continued for more than four years and ultimately led to the establishment of Nepal as federal, democratic republic just a few months ago after its April 2008 elections.
UPF-Asia Regional Chair, Dr. Chung Sik Yong, explained why peace and moral development were inextricably linked together. “One of the central principles of good governance is moral integrity,” Yong emphasized. He then added, “Good leaders look after the well-being of others, not just their own self-interest.”
Dr. Thomas G. Walsh explained that the world can be brought back together, creating one global family, by developing service-oriented leadership. In this sense, learning to serve within the family, school, and community is excellent education and training to develop public-mindedness and prepare to become a good leader.
The Opening Plenary session and the entire first day were held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand. Sessions on the second day were held at the Emerald Hotel.
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