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More than 200 Dignitaries Attend 3rd World Summit Opening Banquet

WorldSummit-2015-08-27-Opening Banquet

Seoul, Korea—More than 200 delegates attended the opening banquet of the 3rd World Summit on “Peace, Security and Human Development,” held at the InterContinental Hotel on August 27, 2015.

The three-day World Summit has been organized by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) in association with the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee. Partner organizations include the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the Washington Times Foundation, the Women’s Federation for World Peace, and the Segye Times.

The participants represented 56 nations and included current and former heads of state and government, religious leaders, woman leaders, civil society leaders, and parliamentarians.

World Summit participants will witness the historic presentation of the first Sunhak Peace Prize, on August 28 at the Intercontinental Hotel, to Kiribati President Anote Tong and Indian fisheries scientist Dr. M.V. Gupta for their contributions to sustainable and lasting peace.

Then on August 30, participants will join an estimated 25,000 people to attend the three-year memorial anniversary of the passing of UPF Founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, which will be held at the Cheongshim Peace World Center in the town of Cheongpyeong.

World Summit Opening Banquet

Moderator Mr. Ricardo de Sena, regional secretary general of UPF-North America, welcomed the guests to the opening banquet. The invocation was given by Rev. Diane Hendrickson Winder, cofounder and spiritual director of the Sephira Institute in New Zealand.

In his welcoming remarks, UPF President Dr. Thomas Walsh gave an introduction to UPF and its role in the development of global peace and harmony. When the post-Cold War optimism of the late 20th century came to an end, the new millennium brought new global problems, Dr. Walsh said, including “the rise of extremism, terrorism, ethnic and religious conflict, threats to the nation-state system, rising tides of refugees, displaced persons and migrants, and, of course, the problems presented by climate change.” National security is needed, but now there is a realization that human security is also essential. Dr. Walsh addressed the issue of “soft power” problems, which are linked to “moral and spiritual confusion, and the decay of long-standing traditions, virtues and values that have been affirmed by the world’s great religions and moral philosophies.”

Rev. Jun Seuk An, the vice president of FFWPU International, welcomed the participants on behalf of the founders and the Unification Movement. Although Korea is known as "The Land of the Morning Calm," Reverend An reminded the participants of the recent exchange of artillery fire at the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). He also brought to everyone’s attention the 70th anniversary of the Korean Peninsula's liberation and freedom from Japanese colonial rule, which was commemorated on August 15. Despite the many issues and problems facing the nations of the world, Reverend An said, “A unified Korea is the fervent hope and dream of the founders and the Unification Movement.”

After a stirring performance by the talented tenor Mr. Seung-il Kim, the audience heard from Japan’s former minister of defense, Hon. Yoshinori Ohno, who gave a moving tribute to the UPF founder and expressed his appreciation and goodwill wishes to Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon and her daughter, Mrs. Sun Jin Moon, who now leads the UPF as its world chair. He expressed his gratitude to the United States, which occupied Japan after the Second World War, and he credited American influence with Japan’s growth and prosperity.

Minister Ohno, who is 80 years old, recalled the hardships of his youth during the war. Recently Japan announced a reinterpretation of its constitution that allows its military (Japan Self-Defense Forces) to defend its allies. “The world is getting smaller and smaller due to the development of communications, transportation and other modern technologies … war itself has changed.” Minister Ohno emphasized that Japan has no intention of engaging in aggression, and takes pride in its peacekeeping operations to Iraq, including rebuilding schools, roads, and construction of water purification plants.

Although military power is necessary as a deterrent, he stressed that conflicts should be resolved through diplomatic means, whenever possible. It is through the power of human relations that peace can be achieved, and that is the strength of UPF, according to Minister Ohno, who also encouraged the promotion of exchange programs, especially for young people to gain greater awareness and sensitivity toward others.

Philippine Congresswoman Gina de Venecia shared a personal testimony about Dr. Moon and his impact on her life. Specifically she spoke about his guidance after the tragic death of her daughter in 2004. Losing a child is the loneliest, most desolate journey a person can take,” she said. On the first birthday after the daughter’s death, she and her husband were invited to a UPF congress in Seoul. Mrs. De Venecia said she gained a “deeper understanding of God’s love and the assurance that someday I and my daughter K.C. will meet again.” With the healing process underway, she began reaching out to other mothers who had lost a child. Thus inspired, she founded the INA Healing Center, which was followed by other organizations, including the Haven for Women for abused women, the Haven for Children, and the Haven for the Elderly. In 2010, she was elected to Congress.

She credits Dr. Moon for engendering an ideology of compassionate appreciation for life which includes the conviction that we are part of one big human family. In September 2015 she will lead a delegation of Philippine women lawmakers to China for a “people-to-people” parliamentary visit. Dr. Moon’s teachings, she said, transformed her and have the power “to restore the faith and the hopes that have been lost in the midst of cynicism.”

The opening banquet and sumptuous meal provided an ideal backdrop and opportunity for guests to socialize and enjoy the entertainment and heartfelt messages. In the midst of growing international issues impacting peace, security and human development, the participants of World Summit 2015 expressed their hope for a successful and meaningful program.

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