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Session VI: Diplomacy, Security and Religious Freedom

South Korea—Former heads of state, senior government officials and parliamentarians from around the world, as well as a prominent faith leader, joined the Think Tank 2022 Forum Session VI of the World Summit 2022. This was co-hosted by UPF and the Royal Government of Cambodia, on February 12, 2022 to discuss the intersection of diplomacy, security and religious freedom in the context of seeking the peaceful reunification of North and South Korea.


Dr. Michael Jenkins, President of UPF International, emphasized the role of religious freedom as a cornerstone of any efforts for peace. Pastor Paula White-Cain, Head, Paula White Ministries, U.S.A., spoke of her time leading the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative. “President Trump was the first U.S. President to hold a meeting at the United Nations on protecting religious freedom around the world where he personally called on the nations of the world to end religious persecution. We followed up on that event with an Executive Order advancing International Religious Freedom that solidifies America’s stand on this critical issue by naming it a foreign policy priority of the United States and promising we will respect and vigorously promote religious freedom.” She encouraged all to follow the biblical exhortation to be peacemakers. “Jesus’ fundamental teaching is to love your enemies, for this is one of the greatest secrets to achieving peace. You’re the epitome of Matthew 5:9 — ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.’”

Hon. Shim Jae Kwon, Chairperson (2012-2016) of the Korean National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, outlined the history of efforts to unite the Korean Peninsula. “Korea has been divided for 74 years as of now. During this time almost 4 million people have lost their lives because of the Korean war, a tragic civil war.” The process was stagnant until the fall of the Soviet Union and collapse of the communist Eastern Bloc. Then North Korea’s leader Kim Il Sung suggested parameters for a loosely federated Korean nation. The 2000 National Summit of the two presidents (North and South) generated a joint declaration. “The June 15th Joint Declaration was a historic breakthrough showing the two Korea’s strong will toward reunification.” Tragically this agreement broke down, and by 2006 the DPRK began nuclear weapons testing. “All the former promises of working toward peaceful reunification were thrown away. Things got very tough.” The Trump administration made major diplomatic advances to deal with the nuclear issue, but these broke down at the failure of the Hanoi Summit. Hon. Shim stated, “I do believe it is not too late. We can take action now. If the three parties (North Korea, South Korea and the United States) try to act together, these problems can be overcome.”

Amb. Callista L. Gingrich, U.S. Ambassador (2017-2021) to the Holy See, spoke of the imperative to seek religious freedom by describing what happens when it is absent. “For decades, the North Korean government has denied the Korean people their fundamental right to worship freely. Through fear, intimidation and retribution, the Kim regime has repressed freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Those who practice their faith are subject to execution, torture, physical abuse, or arrest. Some organizations estimate that at least 50,000-70,000 Christians are in prison for exercising their religious beliefs in North Korea.” She described the many ways the Trump administration worked with the Vatican to establish this foundational understanding when addressing national issues. "Religious freedom is a key building block of peace and security. This fundamental human right is a bulwark against the forces of extremism and tyranny and provides the foundation upon which societies can thrive. In the United States, the right to worship freely is often called America’s first freedom. It is a necessary component of U. S. foreign policy and our commitment to ensuring a more peaceful world.” Finally, she exhorted cooperation between the many facets of society to reach this goal. “All of us, across governments, civil society, and faith-based organizations, must work together to build bridges that facilitate tolerance and understanding.”

UPF President Dr. Michael Jenkins stressed: “To attain peace, we need to acknowledge God. Politics alone will not do it. It is a fundamental principle to bring together political and religious leaders to bring success.”

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister (2006-2015) of Canada, also focused on the topic of religious freedom. He discussed how the foundations of a nation determine their conduct. “Let us begin by reminding ourselves that the Republic of Korea has never sought the reunification of the peninsula through force. It has been focused on the progress of its citizens, not military conquest. But the DPRK has sought military conquest, not only through the war of 1950 to 1953, but also through its relentless development of military capabilities at literally any cost to its citizens over many decades. This difference in the fundamental priorities of the two states stems directly from the fundamentally different nature of their systems.” He reflected on what they had done in Canada. “In Canada we asked: ‘What can be done to establish culture and conditions for democracy to take root?’ For this reason, my government established the office of religious freedom.” When individuals opposed this and asked for freedom from religion, he countered them. “It is not only religion that can be extreme; it is the lack of religion that can also be extreme. It is certainly undemocratic and dangerous to negate all other political viewpoints by claiming to speak for God. It is equally undemocratic and dangerous to claim that one can negate all other political viewpoints in the name of a mere human being.” He also acknowledged that religious freedom does not solve all problems. “Freedom of religion is the reminder that by being conceived in God’s image, we are important. But because we are not God, there must be limits on our power.”

Hon. Dan Burton, member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1983-2013) and international Co-Chair of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP), acknowledged that Dr. Moon is doing more for peace than anyone I have seen on the global stage and we sincerely thank her because without her, none of us would be able to be part of this great WS 2022 today.   UPF and the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace have almost 7000 parliamentarians working together and our conclusion is that we need more action by more people.”  

Hon. Jose de Venecia, Jr., Chair Emeritus of Universal Peace Federation, and International Co-Chair of IAPP, issued an official virtual statement as Chairman of International Conference of Asia Political Parties. In his remarks, he promoted the feasibility of establishing a loose Confederation for the two Koreas, until at some point in the future, they can become a united Republic, with alternating presidency. He stated that it is possible if there is a common will, with the support of the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, and with ASEAN, the European Union and the UN providing guidance and active support. He mentioned that Asia and the global community must build on the efforts of historic, direct talks between U.S. President Donald Trump, North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, which will eventually lead to a roadmap to eventual unification and lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula. Although students of realpolitik may say this is wishful thinking, Hon. De Venecia emphasized that this is how impossible initiatives begin.

H.E. Jimmy Morales, President (2016-2020) of Guatemala participated by video to encourage immediate action over mere discussion to seek peaceful solutions for our world in the midst of continued poverty. “If we can achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula, it is possible to attain it in the whole world. Peace can be pursued through more than a Track I diplomatic path.”

H.E. Rosalia Arteaga Serrano, President (1997) of Ecuador, added her concerns about the “challenge of asymmetry between the very wealthy and poor countries.” She referenced the reunification of East and West Germany that made dreams possible for their peoples and noted that “peace is not just the situation between countries, it is dealing with our own lives.”

Hon. Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State (2018-2021) and CIA director (2017-2018), focused his remarks on the contrast of societal values: “In our administration, we sought peace through strength by seeking dignity of people. This is not only an American mission but a mission for the West to allow every person to practice faith as they so choose.” In the process of seeking Korean reunification, he stated, “We will never forget the suffering of this nation. We remember the division of this country. We believed we were close to achieving peace when I visited Kim Jong-un. In spite of the work that remains to be done, there is a path forward to peace.” He held a cautious stance toward China. “The Chinese Communist Party does not share our values. Chinese aggression continues today. America must confront this and work with our friends of peace-loving nations and peoples—first and foremost, through diplomacy. That is why we shared our vision with Chairman Kim. Our vision would have made the lives of people there better. We did not place sanctions on North Korea to punish them, but to make the way of peace clearer.”

Hon. Mark Esper, U.S. Secretary of Defense (2019-2021), focused on strategic perspectives. “Too many suffer in the world’s biggest prison: North Korea. Too often we put the urgent before the important issues. Our opponents exploit our inattention. America’s presence in the Middle East demonstrates this. During this time, China has built the largest military in the world. Russia’s military has modernized. Both Putin and Xi Jinping are propping up North Korea. We can’t control the actions of China, Russia and North Korea, but we can control our own abilities. We must work closer together collaboratively in all domains: technology, military and economics. We must commit to engage China together showing resolve and determination so they will pursue different approaches that respect international law and norms. We must expand our cooperation to India, New Zealand and beyond. This should be done multilaterally, engaging all democratic bodies. We must bolster our armed forces and exercise them more jointly. A strong military will buttress our diplomacy. The U.S. must lead with our values—the virtues of democracy and God-given religious rights.”

Chairman of UPF International, Dr. Thomas Walsh, invited all the participants to affirm the Seoul Resolution for Peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Other contributors to this session:

H.E. Anthony Carmona, President (2013-2018), Trinidad and Tobago, stated, “Bringing North and South Korea to the table of peace requires international mobilization through advocacy and genuine global cooperation and collaboration. What is required is forward thinking, not revisiting the painful past but coming to terms with the intergenerational and intra-generational hopes and ambition for a United Korean people. A United Korea must adhere to a governance structure that recognizes and respects human rights, the rule of law, due process and the rules of natural justice.”

Hon. G. Wayne Panton, Premier, Cayman Isles, stated, “The path to peace—though not easy—can be achieved if we work together to rebuild trust, thus breaking down barriers of division and establishing mutual respect. We can achieve more through open dialogue, cultural exchange, tourism and trade than to rely solely on traditional diplomacy. No man is an island, and no country should have to stand alone. It takes a village, not just to raise a child, but to live in harmony. Let us make a concerted effort to learn from each other.

Dr. Ann Higgins, President, World Dance Council, UNESCO, Bahamas, said, “Thank you for addressing the critical challenges of our time and promoting constructive dialogue and multilateral cooperation for the sake of peace and human development.”

H.E. Dr. Oscar Alvarez Araya, Former Ambassador to Taiwan, Costa Rica, stated, “Wishing you success and substantial achievements in deliberating the subject of reconciliation and peace for the Korean Peninsula. Many thanks and our best wishes for success to everyone at the World Summit.”

Dr. Nejama Bergman Padilla, President, University of Commercial, Sciences, Nicaragua, stated, “I wish that this World Summit and the Think Tank 2022, organized by You, Mother Moon, with the support of His Excellency, the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Samdech Hun Sen, and the Honorable Former Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, will open soon the doors to reunification [of the two Koreas].”

Cardinal Kelvin Edward Felix, Catholic Archbishop, St. Lucia, said, “This is an appropriate time and season for our brothers and sisters throughout the world to raise their hearts and voices in union with the prophets of old, begging our brothers and sisters of the North and South Korean Peninsula to come together in peace and unity as the Creator intended from the beginning.”

Dr. Joseph Raj, St. Michael Parish, St. Lucia, stated, “If we can achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula, it will give hope that peace can be established globally. The steps we take to create a breakthrough for peace on the Korean Peninsula can be emulated by other nations. The situation on the Korean Peninsula is merely complicated by geopolitical competition among superpowers. Not only during the 20thcentury Cold War but even today we must work toward building trust, mutual respect, reconciliation, and cooperation.” 

H.E. Hamilton Green, Prime Minister (1985-1992), Guyana, said, “To bring peace, we need to ignore the mantra of a famous European leader who postulated that the best way to preserve peace is to be prepared for war. That has never worked. Father Moon has taught us to be kind to each other, to treat our brother as one treats oneself. In other words, what Father Moon has argued is to change our attitude to life.”

H.E. Antero Flores-Araoz Esparza, Prime Minister (2020) and Defense Minister (2007-2008), Peru, stated, “We need to look for alternative systems to search for peace, from civil society, from human beings without the need for governmental organizations. Hopefully this Summit can give us other ideas, give us greater dynamism and open the way for a general understanding to achieve the long-awaited peace in the world.”

H.E. Federico Franco, President (2012-2013), Paraguay, said, “What is impossible for us is possible for God. We speak to God by praying. Prayer continues to be the best weapon we have for the return of peace in the Korean Peninsula. Now is a good time to reflect, it is a good time to pray. All of you in Seoul are not alone. In all the countries of the planet we are praying for peace between the two Koreas.”

Hon. Humberto Benedetto, Member of Parliament, Argentina, stated, “The reunification of Korea will tell the world that peace is possible, that life can overcome death, that cultural and moral values are more important than ideologies, and that with peace we can fully realize the dreams of each of us the inhabitants of this planet. As representatives of the peoples, more than governments, as Parliamentarians for Peace we believe in the power of love, more than in the love of power. We believe in the power of reason, more than in the reason of power,”

Hon. Silvia Giacoppo, Senator, Argentina, stated, “I want to convey my message of support for the unification of the Korean people. Seventy years after that fracture, that division in which brothers and families were separated—the same people, with the same language, and with the same identity. Today we all struggle together from all over the planet. We pray [jointly that] the peaceful unification of the Korean people becomes a reality.”

Hon. Yonhy Lescano Ancieta, Member of Parliament (2001-2019), Peru, stated, “To achieve peace, obviously, we first have to achieve justice, and well-being in the daily life of each citizen, of each people. Rev. Dr. Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, have been ceaselessly struggling to achieve these goals: that people can live better in their families, in their homes, and as citizens.”

Atty. Dr. Manuel Rodriguez Rodriguez, Lawyer; President, ANDESICREAT, Peru, said, “UPF seeks solidarity with the Korean Peninsula, giving strong support in order to create the best external conditions for the Koreans themselves to find a way for a true reconciliation and culture of peace, united as brothers in a single, unified Korea.”

Bishop Antonio Huanco, Bishop of the Evangelical Methodist Church, Bolivia, said, “Cordial and fraternal greetings from Bolivia, for the 102 years of life and work of Rev. Sun Myung Moon and 79 years of hard work of the Mother of Peace, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, for establishing a world of peace, a family under God and a Unified Heavenly Korea. I express my sincere congratulations and admiration for a lifetime dedicated to providential work for God our Heavenly Father.”

Dr. Carlos Limongi Sterse, Judge, Founder of Crusade for Liberty, Brazil, commented, “I’m a judge and Crusade for Dignity founder. My congratulations to the True Parents on their birthday, We are praying for the success of the World Summit 2022. Let’s all unite together with our hearts, our minds, and our praise. Korea must be united; it’s possible. We have confidence that Think Tank will have enormous success. Let’s do it together. Let’s believe. Let’s move. I hope and I know we will have a new page in history. Congratulations to everyone.”

Pastor Leila Florencio dos Santos, Pastor of Christ Returns Mission Church, Brazil, and Rabbi Samuel Szteinhendler, Vice President, International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ), Chile.

Archbishop Chrysostomos Celi, Orthodox Metropolis of Ecuador and Latin America, said, “Our world faces a multitude of challenges…. These problems cannot be solved through government instruments alone because their fundamental cause is not exclusively political or economic. The fundamental cause is buried deeply in the human heart: in selfishness and separation from God. Ladies and gentlemen, for the sake of our nations and the world, we have to open our hearts and minds to receive Divine illumination.”

Dr. Roshan Khan, Religious Leader, Guyana, offered a beautiful prayer appealing for Allah’s presence and blessings for the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

Msgr. Rafael Ruiz Gaona, Christian Catholic Apostolic Church, Paraguay, stated, “Peace on the Korean peninsula is of great importance. If we can achieve peace between two sister nations, it will give hope that peace can be established worldwide. It is important that all of us, religious, civil, military leaders become aware of our participation in the construction of dialogue and reconciliation to build peace between the brothers and sisters of different races, languages. May the Supreme Being make us instruments of his peace.”


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