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EUME ILC2022: Session III

London, United Kingdom—Session III of the 2022 Europe-Middle East International Leadership Conference was titled “Exploring the Strategy of the Seoul Resolution toward Sustainable Peace and Prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.”

The session was the first of three held in London on August 4, 2022, in the Peace Embassy. The Europe-Middle East (EUME) ILC was one of the International Leadership Conferences organized worldwide in the summer of 2022 on the overall theme  “Towards Peace and Security on the Korean Peninsula: Building a Global Culture of Peace.”

The first two EUME sessions were held in Berlin on July 26; sessions 3, 4 and 5 were held in London on August 4; sessions 6 and 7 were held in Larnaca, Cyprus, and Tirana, Albania, both on August 5.

Humphrey Hawksley, a former BBC World Affairs correspondent as well as an author and commentator, moderated the session in his typical BBC-trained style.

Keith Best, the chair of the UPF-UK Board of Trustees and a former member of the UK Parliament, was the first to address the topic, drawing on his different career experiences in the military, as a barrister, a politician and working with NGOs.

Mr. Best praised UPF and in particular the long-term dedication of UPF co-founders Father and Mother Moon to the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

He expressed his admiration for the Seoul Resolution, a “historic document” which he had signed just before the session started. The resolution promotes international order by supporting the UN Charter and international law—two fundamental pillars for lasting peace and effective global governance, he said.

He highlighted those measures in the resolution that are aimed at boosting confidence and mutual understanding and discussed the impressive list of signatories and potential signatories who had supported the event that launched the Seoul Resolution. Bringing a wide range of stakeholders to work together was a powerful approach to peacebuilding, he said.

Mr. Best recalled his visits to East Germany while he was stationed in West Germany with the British army. His experiences in pre-unification Germany illustrate for him the difficulties ahead in the reunification of Korea. He considered also the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, currently being reviewed by the United Nations, which confronts the desire of the DPRK to enhance its nuclear capabilities.

Keith Bennett, also from the United Kingdom, the deputy chair of the Kim Il Sung Kim Jeong Il Foundation and a recipient of the Friendship Order of the DPRK by President Kim Il Sung, discussed the Seoul Resolution from a DPRK perspective.

Mr. Bennett praised Mother Moon’s tireless devotion to the cause of the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula. He described the Seoul Resolution as a document of great wisdom which seeks a way forward with compromise, magnanimity and a determination to seek a constructive approach.

World Summit 2022, at which the Seoul Resolution was launched in February, attracted media attention to the participation of US right-wing Republicans such as Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo, he said. Of equal importance, though not emphasized in the media, was the World Summit co-chairmanship of Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, Mr. Bennett said.

The close relationship between Cambodia and the DPRK goes back many decades, he explained. The Cambodian Royal Family is also very close to the DPRK.

In addition, Prime Minister Hun Sen is close to China, Russia and Vietnam, and this year Cambodia is the chair of the 10-member-nation ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). The wide background of potential support for the Seoul Resolution reflects the inclusivity and approach of UPF, Mr. Bennett said.

Considering the mention of confidence-building measures that are needed, Mr. Bennett emphasized the value of a long-term approach rather than the big-bang sudden negotiation. He appreciated the use of the Demilitarized Zone for positive initiatives, also mentioning the emotional journey from the South to Mount Kumgang to visit the tourist area when it was possible. In conclusion, he called the situation on the Korean Peninsula a major destabilizing factor in the region and said that positive initiatives are valuable and necessary.

Yoshihiro Yamazaki, the EUME liaison director for the Institute for Peace Policies and the EUME coordinator of UPF’s International Association of Academicians for Peace (IAAP), introduced a broad-based “headwing” viewpoint of the Seoul Resolution in the wider context of tensions between China and the United States regarding Taiwan.

His main premise was that the ideological understanding of the tensions between atheistic communist nations and capitalist nations that permit religious belief has not been sufficiently resolved to guide the aftermath of the Cold War into lasting peace. The collaborative and inclusive approach that Father and Mother Moon have taken could have been helpful to resolve these tensions and is being applied within the Seoul Resolution to develop peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.  

Mr. Yamazaki said: “In science or any rational methodology, if a theory which is built on a certain hypothesis did not produce a theoretically anticipated outcome, you need to evaluate, revise or abandon the hypothesis. As communism, which was built on the philosophical assumption of atheism and materialism, did not produce its advocated outcomes, its premises should be at least reviewed in order to identify an alternative philosophical perception and future vision.

“But surprisingly, very few attempts have been made in this direction. It was a serious failure in both the West and East camps of the Cold War regime! The world missed a historical moment to renew our worldviews, conducive to create what was said to a new world order.

“Without the fundamental ideological shifts, an isolated North Korea felt little pressure to alter its ideology of atheism, materialism and Juche ideology. China, Vietnam and Cuba maintained their communism in their constitutions, officially endorsing atheism. The core of the Cold War—namely, the nuclear equilibrium—has more or less sustained, even with new nuclear powers joining in the games. In this respect, Europe was the only theater to witness a genuine ending of the Cold War.”

Mr. Hawksley guided the question-and-answer session in which the role and position of Japan were discussed in relation to the Korean Peninsula and wider regional peace and security issues.

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