CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Celebrating the First Anniversary of the Founding of UPF
Written by Dr. Michael Jenkins, UPF-USA
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Seoul, Korea - The Universal Peace Federation Assembly, entitled “Peacebuilding and Human Development: The UN and Beyond,” convened in Seoul, Korea from September 10-14, attended by over 400 delegates from 140 nations. Worldwide leaders such as Bishop Abel Muzorewa, former prime minister of Zimbabwe and one of the great African leaders, along with US Congressmen, legislators from many nations, as well as religious leaders from all the major world religions convened at this most crucial time of challenges to peace in the world.
There was a sense of great expectation. Some of it was due to the escalation of tensions in the Middle East, especially raised by the recent conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. The conference took place in Seoul, South Korea, just 40 miles south of the 38th parallel, where tensions have been raised due to missile testing and the breakdown of the six-party talks.
It became clear that Ambassadors for Peace feel ownership of UPF, with prominent leaders from around the world talking about “our movement,” or “our efforts with the UPF.”
The opening session began with Dr. Thomas Walsh, Secretary General of UPF, describing developments since the founding of UPF on September 12, 2005. Father and Mother Moon’s three world peace tours provided an opportunity for Ambassadors for Peace not only to come together but multiply the foundation in their nation. In fact, because of the world tours, presidents and prime ministers and speakers of parliaments have expressed support for the Universal Peace Federation and its mission to establish an “Abel” UN.
Other speakers at the opening plenary Sir James Mancham, chairman of the Presiding Council of the UPF; the First Lady of the nation of Palau, Mrs. Debbie Remengesau; and Bishop Abel Tendekayi Muzorewa, former prime minister of Zimbabwe. The keynote address was given by Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, the UPF Chairman.
“The rise of the UPF is directly linked to a broader transformation on a global level,” said Dr. Kwak. “The old order will gradually pass away way, not by physical force or violence, but by force of reason and spiritual awakening.”
Middle East Peace Initiative
The plenary session aimed to be a ‘case study’ of the UPF in action, showing how the application of UPF core principles and methodologies provide a hopeful alternative to conventional political, diplomatic, and military approaches. Tension filled the air as a Lebanese Christian and an Israeli Jew launched the session. Dr. Constantin’s forthright presentation focused on the suffering in Lebanon due to the war that just occurred. A seasoned Ambassador for Peace, Dr. Glaubach was respectful, embracing and parental, pointing out that Ambassadors for Peace do not agree with war as a means of resolving differences. Great though the suffering on both sides may be, to focus on it prevents people from rising to a higher level.
The conference was designed to open up avenues of dialogue and understanding among participants coming from many parts of the Middle East – Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
Co-chairs Mr. Taj Hamad described UPF’s principles of peacebuilding, and Dr. Michael Jenkins moderated a type of forum often used by television news analysts.
An Israeli Knesset member reported a diversity of opinions within the Knesset before fighting began in Lebanon along with a dangerous tendency toward war. He also pointed out that once the nation commits to a war effort, any questioner of that approach is considered unpatriotic. He publicly challenged the feasibility of Israel accomplishing its objectives through war; however, since he was a decorated paratrooper, military hero, and member of the Knesset since 1984, people could not call him unpatriotic.
A former US congressman stated that the US is seeking other ways to resolve this conflict in the Middle East, and many key leaders of all parties are realizing the need to go beyond the current methods or we will not achieve peace. Gen. Mansour Mustafa Abu Rashid of Jordan had helped draft the 1994 peace agreement between Israel and Jordan. When asked about the reaction of Jordanians to the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, he stated that the war made it extremely difficult for Jordan to stand as America’s ally at this time.
Dr. Glaubach said there used to be a sense of trust among Arabs, Jews, Christians, Muslims – and the conflicts were rooted more in the clashes among political entities representing the people over land or defense. However, he said that all trust has broken down. He echoed Rev. Moon’s call for establishing international communities of peacebuilders in neutral zones between conflicting parties. Archbishop George Augustus Stallings, from the US, stated that without the spirit of living for the sake of others taught by Rev. Moon, there will be no peace. He reminded people that Rev. Moon has encouraged religious and political leaders to cooperate in finding solutions that benefit everyone. Pakistani leader Dr. Khanum Aijaz advocated setting up a regional form of Rev. Moon’s proposed interreligious council. She envisions a permanent body of diverse religious leaders in constant dialogue and communication that can exert positive influence on groups and nations in conflict.
These panelists clarified current events better than most news programs. Although it was reported that the majority of the populace wants peace and a two-state solution for Palestine and Israel, out of fear and the breakdown of trust, the people from the various nations are electing officials who lean toward war as the first option. Still, with all these delicate issues, the atmosphere created by Ambassadors for Peace from conflicted areas of the world was one of trust and openness. This brings hope that the worst enemies, when given the right kind of atmosphere, can sit down at a table of brotherhood and implement some of Rev. Moon’s visionary approaches to solving problems other than through the crucible of war.
The conference continued for two more days, with panel and group discussions on a number of the UPF’s areas of special focus. These sessions served as a way to gather people with specific professional interests to develop UPF. These sessions served as a way to support greater solidarity among those specialized areas and this is an important element in creating a stronger and more focused UPF network.
- The North East Asia panel discussed the significance of the American, Japanese and Mongolian roles, as well as China-Taiwan relations, regional economic cooperation, etc. US and Russian speakers proposed a Helsinki-type approach to regional security cooperation.
- Academics and educators looked at the role of the UPF in the context of the recent work of the United Nations Commission on Peacebuilding. It suggested that the relationship between the United Nations University and the UN could be a possible paradigm for future relations between academia and the UPF.
- Media professionals described economic and political pressures on their work in various nations. The discussed ways to work together to raise awareness and shape public debate on issues of importance to UPF.
- The session on character education linked it to human development and human rights, giving examples from Uganda, St. Lucia and Thailand. Dr. Nophaket, a Human Rights Commissioner from Thailand, discussed the importance of peace education, conflict resolution, human rights, and character education. Dr. Peter Lokeris from Uganda did an excellent job highlighting the changes that had occurred in society in Uganda due to a proactive approach to education. Ms. Fortuna Anthony Husbands spoke about the character education initiative in St. Lucia and also the summer workshop camps which were supported by interns from the U.S., Korea and Japan.
- Representatives of governments and intergovernmental organizations An Indian ambassador asked the participants to persuade the governments to adopt a spiritual approach to solving problems by using UPF principles and values. “Let’s build people who live for others.” A senator for Liberia reported on the development national and local peace councils in his nation and described UPF as the hope not only of his nation but all of Africa.
- The panel on expanding the global transportation infrastructure, particularly via a tunnel across the Bering Strait, enlisted the support of railway development specialists and experts on working in arctic conditions.
On the final day of the conference, a second panel discussed the idea of the Abel United Nations. The panel was chaired by Michael Balcomb, and included Dr. Narendra P. Jain, former Indian Ambassador to the United Nations and the EU; Hon. Cheryl Lau, a judge from the United States; the Hon. Chrisanthus Barnabas Okemo, a member of Parliament of Kenya; Ms. Karen Judd Smith, director of UPF’s office of UN relations; Ambassador Johnson Toribiong from Palau; and Dr. Andrew Wilson, a religious scholar from the United States.
Aware that the United Nations is currently overwhelmed by twenty-first century challenges that its 1945 architects did not envision, UPF continues promoting a dimension of renewal that takes into consideration both what the UN really needs and how to integrate it into the current UN system.
Dr. Wilson began with a review of the story of Cain and Abel, updated from Genesis and proposed as a model of what NOT to do in case of conflict (i.e., descend from fraternal disagreement to homicide). Instead, those in a position of Abel, being more spiritual and emotionally mature, have to love and respect others in the position of Cain. There can be no success for Abel without Cain, and vice versa. Developing this theme, the panel concluded that when UPF speaks of itself as an Abel UN it is really a call to greater service and to the public good. Although religions have, in the past, been one of the major causes of conflict it remains true that when they unite, they represent a powerful healing force for good.
The Celebration at the Original Peace Palace
The high point of the conference was the celebration of the founding of the UPF, held at the Cheon Jeong Goong Peace Palace and Museum, about 40 miles outside of Seoul. The 400 UPF delegates were joined by several hundred Korean dignitaries in the main chapel for the banquet and celebration. Sir James Mancham proclaimed this first anniversary of UPF a glorious day, noting how much we have marched throughout the world in this last year. He described the founding of UPF as a turning point for reconciliation and peace to all the world. Sir James’ booming voice created such an atmosphere of proclamation that the audience could sense history rolling on before their eyes.
The UPF Chairman, Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, welcomed all the delegates to the anniversary celebration. “The rise of the UPF is directly linked to a broader transformation,” he said; “On a global level, a providential and civilizational shift is underway. This shift will affect all social, political and economic institutions. An old order will gradually pass away, not by physical force or violence, but by force of reason and spiritual awakening. We will look back, much as we do today in looking at, say, feudalism, with no desire to return to a time, worldview and way of life that will only seem small in comparison what lies before us.”
Everyone was excited to see Father Moon introduced to give the keynote address. Father Moon said that he would stick to the text, as requested by Mother Moon This always fills the room with warm laughter because everyone knows this won’t happen. Once his heart starts moving with all the world leaders present, he cannot help but embrace, guide and sincerely speak to them directly and personally.
Many of the things that Father Moon shared in his address are included in the world tour address, but always there is new insight and understanding as the work of the peace movement extends so rapidly through so many countries that it’s very difficult even for the best Ambassador for Peace to keep up. The UPF is moving in every continent and every country.
The keynote address concluded with a tremendous feeling of love and warmth. After lunch, the founders were given gifts by the presiding council of the UPF. Then there was a special honorary doctorate ceremony led by Dr. Carlos Enrique Pena, executive vice-president of the University of Santa Maria in Caracas, Venezuela. This university has 50,000 students and has previously conferred only three other honorary doctorates in its long history.
New Leadership Structure for the UPF
Towards the end of the conference, a number of leadership and organizational changes to the UPF were announced. The position of UPF Chair and Presiding Council Chair were combined and are held by Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak. The UPF also welcomes two new members of the presiding council, Bishop Abel Muzorewa from Zimbabwe and Ambassador Johnson Toribiong from Palau.
The outgoing chairman of the Presiding Council, Sir James Mancham, was elected to be the first chairman of the expanded Global Peace Council. Mr. Taj Hamad and Dr. Eva Latham were elected vice-presidents. Members of the Global Peace Council include the regional UPF chairs. There are now 12 regional offices, including the newly-formed Canadian and European Central offices.
At the conclusion of the Assembly, a number of upcoming events were announced including the XIX Middle East Peace Initiative (October), the WANGO conference of non-government organizations in Jordan (November), a First Ladies conference (November) and an Africa Summit in Ethiopia (December). The date for the fourth UPF assembly was tentatively set for February 21-24, 2007.
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