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Speeches

I. Italeli: Address to Asia Pacific Summit 2018

Address to Asia Pacific Summit 2018, Kathmandu, Nepal, Nov. 30–Dec. 3, 2018

 

Greetings to you all from the small island in the Pacific, Tuvalu. Honorable chairperson, excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen.

I feel greatly honored and privileged to be invited by the Prime Minister of Nepal and the government of Nepal and the people of Nepal, to address this Asia Pacific Summit which brings together heads of states and heads of governments, eminent faith leaders and leaders of civil society from various countries. In fact, in the face of such intellectual and professional distinctions I have sought some comfort and a degree of consolation from that all good ideas for this world have already been put forth, but the point is, to consider them again. Never in my days has there been a potential to play so important and decisive a role in defining and shaping our common future as now. There is compelling need for the world’s wealth of professional, social and political intelligence and imagination to be employed to untangle the problems of our threatened humanity and the imminent dangers threatening our fragile planet.

We must develop a shared analysis and perspective about our world in order that we can create and correct a life-enhancing environment politically, economically and socially for all.

This summit, dedicated to exploring pathways to interdependence, peace and mutual prosperity, represents an important contribution to that collective effort. I particularly welcomed the invitation that has been extended to me for I am confident that the inspiration for rectifying our world stems from active commitments to the promotion of the cause of peace and development.

The Universal Peace Federation has grown out of a recognition that human survival requires new attitudes and new ethics with implications of social responsibility for politicians and faith leaders. It recognizes that both the political and faith leaders occupy a crucial place in the functioning of contemporary society and that the faith leaders have a complex dynamic interplay with political decision makers and a social responsibility in helping to shape a better future. We all bring to this summit, I believe, the full weight of combined wisdom in promoting solutions to the variety of critical problems that humanity faces today.

I would like to pay a special tribute to the memory of Rev. Father Moon whose inspiration led to the founding of UPF. Reverend Moon was passionately dedicated to the course of human liberation and peace that brought men of courage and vision together to make this world a better place than they found it.

To be an activist in the promotion of peace, development and the environment is to be an activist in the defense of our right to survive and develop a species in fragile and increasingly threatened habitats. In the face of our common crisis, an international movement for global change for sustainable development is gradually taking root in the North, South, East and West. The range of speakers invited to this summit testifies to the aspirations of the united spirit for global change. The sources of such change must go deep and broaden and be manifold. One of our most important achievements has been the sustained efforts being made to change our cognitive map of the world. When there is danger, there is a collective and enlightened self-interest in promoting the survival of humanity and the planet. There can be no question that this is having a discernible effect on the intellectual outlook. The political culture of our time is transcending national boundaries. It is helping to foster a new consensus for planetary interdependence.

The national summits held for the purpose of saving the ozone layer galvanized international concern into firm support for action now to protect our environment and security in our biosphere. Some countries are now serious to combat atmospheric pollution. The question is how are we to save God, our future, and the future of the coming generations? Our present pattern of using resources is resulting far too often in the pollution of the foundations of life. What will the situation be like with ten billion people on earth, instead of seven billion, in the next century?

Honorable Chairperson and our many friends here today, we are approaching thresholds that cannot be crossed without endangering the integrity of our vital life-support systems. The facts speak for themselves. Acid precipitation, global warming, ozone depletion, widespread desertification, species lost, deforestation and pollution post threats as serious as those of a military nature to our global security. Gradually, perhaps slowly, we are coming to see our world as an indivisible home, a network of organic relationships which weave man and nature into a single garment of destiny.

We are here today to address issues for which there is a grave and pressing need for human consensus and global commitment. We are meeting at an opportune moment when we are entering a period of heightened opportunities for cooperative action in international life. There is a revitalization of dialogue and issues such as the conservation of our global environment. New pathways to sustain development and the establishment of a comprehensive regime of international security will require much more than goodwill and imagination. It will require political relationships and a new ethic of international cooperation. The theme of my address goes to the very height of the contemporary international challenges—challenges of a world in crisis. Never before has humanity confronted so many related tensions manifesting themselves in such varied form and in so many places at the same time. Never has there been a more compelling need for solidarity between peoples and nations in meeting successfully the vital global challenges for promoting sustainable economic development, preventing the degradation of our environment and eliminating the threat of nuclear destruction.

The gap between the rich and the poor is widening. By current estimates there is little prospect of this trend being reversed. Report after report points to the failure of development and the failure of management of our environment. There is a great contrast between unmet human needs and expenditure on the arms race. The world is spending much more on the protection of world trends than on the alleviation of poverty.

The grant report put the matter in perspective when it’s needed, and I quote, “More arms do not make men safer, only poorer” and summed up the relationship between the expenditure on arms and unmet human needs and I quote, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in a final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.”

The intellectual and scientific attainments of mankind have put within our grasp the possibility of developing a global civilization more humane than anything that has gone before, a civilization based on the recognition of human interdependence and human prosperity which provides for every person the essential material requirements for a dignified and protected existence. Widespread poverty should no longer be inevitable nor should the arms race. There is a pressing need for a new international order, an order that will require fundamental change. It cannot be secured by compulsion, but only through dialogue and the creation of international consensus for planned global change.

A strategy for change requires imaginative leadership and a political climate actively supportive of such change. There is an informed public opinion that genuinely asserts the need for a new international order. Political will is exercised when public opinion is widely mobilized. The truth is that security is elusive in our world. Humanity needs security from hunger, disease, effects of pollution, from war and workers of mass destruction. Security in our interdependent world is multifaceted and can no longer be defined in terms of its military aspects. An invader might be a stab at our borders or the descent of famine or pollution. To face all these challenges, new awareness and new forces are required. Global solidarity flowing from our common interest in defending ourselves from threats to our survival or threats to our fragile planet are becoming vital. Many reports within the United Nations context and elsewhere are resulting in a new awakening to the need for universal security. A distinctive contribution to the development of a philosophy of planned global change for human survival and sustained development are contained in reports by several UN commissions. Such reports underline the fact that it is no longer possible to make decisions on any global issue without considering how it relates to other items on the global agenda. Interdependencies are increasing and the need for international cooperation growing. What is needed is a program for global reform, a program to secure the resources to sustain the present and the coming generations.

A central feature of this report is that the issue of global equity has to be faced. Poverty, hunger, homelessness, disease and atrocities in our world can no longer be ignored. These issues underscore our need for each other and our mutual dependence and interdependence. We must dismantle those structures that permit existing injustices to continue on a global scale. The massive disproportion of what the world spends on defense and what it spends on development is no longer tolerable. Political relations demand that initiative must be taken in reshaping our world. Common perceptions of crises must be translated to appropriate global policies. Security policies can no longer be concerned with peace but must deal effectively with the broader and more complex question of the interrelationships between military and non-military elements of security. Strengthening the role of the UN for international peace and security and promoting dialogue and multilateralism are essential to the development of a new world era.

Honorable chairperson, the most critical challenge of our time is the wholesome education of our youth. No one can deny that education is one of the most powerful instruments known for reducing poverty and inequality and for laying the basis for sustained economic growth. It is fundamental for the construction of democracy societies and dynamic global competitive economies.

For individuals and for nations, education is the key to creating and applying and spreading knowledge, thus having enormous power to transform. We must appreciate our most valued treasure in our people, especially our youth. Our fight against poverty, crime and all the myriad ills of society requires us to invest in the development of our human resources. The mass potential of our people must be turned into specific skills and capacities needed for construction, or reconstruction, and development. No better investment can be made in people, and especially the youth, than a good education. An educated, enlightened and informed population is the cornerstone of sustainable human development. Not only that, it will build up enlightened societies with human values and strengths and the family structures to deal with the problems of marriage breakdown, domestic violence and the impact of such trends in society.

Pride in our identities and cultural norms and traditions is the way forward to accomplish our visions and nations’ aspirations. The challenge is to ensure that education is lifted from a mere process of teaching and learning to education for life—to raise responsible members of a community capable of mutual prosperity.

In this regard, particular attention needs to be paid to the education of women. We must highlight the importance of education and government empowerment of women, for all too often women are excluded from education in many developing societies. It was Barack Obama who said in his address to the African Nations and I quote, “The single best indicator of whether a nation will succeed is how it treats its women.” Society as a whole stands to profit from the education of women. Let us remind ourselves of the well-known proverb: “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate women, you educate a nation.” This is an adage that I very much subscribe to. When women are educated, children do better at school, families are enriched, communities are more progressive, and nations are more enlightened.

We must empower women to take their full places as forerunners to enlighten nations and support global peace and justice. While we praise the efforts of UPF to establish world peace, we must resolve to save our world from the threats of looming nuclear war. We must support constructive dialogue to resolve the conflicts that are destroying peace at the national, regional and international levels. Millions have been made homeless, ruining the future of our youth. There is an urgent need for constructive dialogue and the possibility of moving to a new level of international confidence and practical endeavors. The easing of tensions in international relations is vital for peace. But its implications require careful assessment. It is illusory to believe that solutions to conflicts can be imposed globally.

The roots of conflict have to be addressed in this substantial manner if there are to be long-term settlements. We will then live in an era with heightened possibilities for change. At the end of one great human conflict, the world joined hands and through a mutual plan, the reconstruction of Europe from ruins was given vital importance by provision of economic assistance. Is this not possible when you see the world joining hands again today through a new master plan designed to eradicate the gross disparity between the rich and the poor and set us all on the course of sustainable global development? We are learning to live in a complex interdependent, multi-racial, multi-national world.

Our fortunes are tightly linked together. None of us is secure in a world that is so fragile. A world with a feeling of otherness contributes to the situation we see today. Such practices represent a threat to international security and now are weapons of division and conflict in our interdependent world. They strike at the roots of our common humanity. Fundamentalism and extremism reap a tragic harvest in our times. Who can know how many lives have been destroyed? In considering new pathways to peace and prosperity, we want to consider how this system of evil practices can be eradicated to make our world safe for one humanity.

The devaluation of one section of humanity for another not only leads to injustice and violence, it generates and makes adverse perceptions of inferiority. Such conceptions contribute to a situation that breeds hatred, but the world needs justice. There cannot be one standard for some and another standard for others. There must be only one standard for us all. For every life to be saved and full of promise, it is clear that a new humanism must develop, an ethic of global partnership that defines our humanity by a unity of our mutual needs.

I am confident that our discussions here today will make a positive contribution to advancing the search for new pathways to achieving our common goal. We are not meeting to simply comprehend our world; rather, this summit I’m sure will bring change as decided by all of us. This calls for courage, vision and imagination. I’m sure we can do it. God help us!

 

 


To go to the 2018 Asia Pacific Summit Schedule page, click here.