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Peace Education

Report in Buenos Aires on Regional Leadership Conference in Panama


Buenos Aires, Argentina - "Cooperation for Development and Peace" was the theme of an extended meeting of the Peace Council of UPF-Argentina at the Peace Embassy in Buenos Aires on August 10. A report was given about the International Leadership Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean June 23-25 in Panama, which included representatives from various national chapters of the UPF of the region, Ambassadors for Peace, social representatives, congressmen, and ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

To create a family atmosphere, each of the participants introduced themselves. Then Orfa Pérez, Master of Ceremonies, screened a short introductory video of the vision and activities of UPF globally. Then Miguel Werner, Secretary General of UPF-Argentina, gave a report of the conference in Panama on the theme "Regional Cooperation for Peace and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean," which was coordinated by Alejandro de Souza, Regional Secretary General, and convened by Dr. Thomas Walsh, President of UPF International.

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UPF's vision of peace and main global activities were presented, along with information about proposals for UN renewal and the importance of the family, which was uplifted by one of the delegates as the "first system of government," expanding from there to the the municipal, provincial, regional, and national levels. A book by the Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development, to which a UPF author contributed, related the eight Millennium Development Goals to the family. UPF chapters in 70 countries celebrated the International Family Day in 2012.

UPF's relatively new focus on peace and security was introduced; regional forums provide a broader understanding of conflicts and their resolution, from the Middle East to the division of Korea, a Cold War relic. UPF Founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon described this as the Pacific Rim Era, culminating the expansion of civilization from four river basins (in the Middle East, Egypt, China, India) to the Mediterranean Sea (Greece, Rome), the European continent, England, USA, Japan, and now the Asia-Pacific region.

The UN's noble mission of peace is far from being realized. The issue was discussed during the second session of the Panama meeting, entitled "Renewing the United Nations and the Importance of Faith-based Organizations" with a lecture given by Ricardo de Sena, Director for Latin American and Caribbean affairs in the UPF Office at the UN. He recalled that Rev. Moon proposed during a meeting at the UN on August 18, 2000 to establish an Interfaith Council consisting of leaders from different spiritual traditions. Such a council would work in an interdisciplinary way with the political representatives to build a comprehensive understanding of problems and promote the resolution of conflicts. He said that the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, presumably the safest place in the world, resulted in the awareness of a need for a new paradigm for addressing global issues. Since then, the UN itself has addressed the "religious factor" through various resolutions, and it established the first week of February each year as World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Rev. Dong Mo Shin, Regional Director of Latin America and the Caribbean, gave the final words of reflection, stressing the values of patience and perseverance. He described a pearl, which is formed when a foreign organism enters into the body of an oyster, which reacts slowly, covering the particle with a substance known as nacre, creating a beautiful and valuable ornament after ten years. "You have to make quite a journey to become pearls," he said. "Father Moon taught us to be the first to give and sacrifice, to give and forget that we gave. That is the source of peace. You are a pearl for each of your countries," he concluded.

Presentations about marriage and family initiatives were given by various delegates. It was noted that Latin America and the Caribbean includes 33 countries with diverse idiosyncrasies; in most nations the official language is Spanish, but English and Portuguese are also spoken. This presents a challenge to the development of joint programs. The conference in Panama was considered a step in this direction. The regional headquarters of the UN will be inaugurated in Panama City in 2014. It is a "bridge" country between North and South America, whose integration is also one of the goals of cooperation of the UPF.

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