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UPF-Netherlands Observes International Day of Peace



Amsterdam, Netherlands—Forgiveness and interconnection were the themes of an International Day of Peace event that was co-sponsored by UPF together with the Church of Scientology. The event took place in the Scientologists’ chapel on September 21, 2023.


Gerbrig van Deinum from the Church of Scientology's human rights department welcomed the participants. She explained that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the UN General Assembly adopted in 1948, contains 30 articles that formed the basis of international treaties and national constitutions. Although all 193 UN member-states have ratified at least one of the nine binding treaties influenced by the Declaration, until now these have not been practiced adequately. Therefore it is important to teach people about human rights, starting at a young age.


UPF-Netherlands Secretary General Willem A. Koetsier referred to the United Nations website’s explanation about International Day of Peace, whose theme for 2023 is “Actions for Peace: Our Ambition for the #GlobalGoals.”


Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals “will create a culture of peace for all. … But without the support and contribution of a wide range of actors, including the 1.2 billion living youth, the goals will not be achieved,” the UN website said.


Mr. Koetsier continued: “At this meeting we would like to consider how the original idea behind the creation of the UN—as an institution that would promote peace based on human rights and good relations between countries—can be strengthened again.


“Dr. Sun Myung Moon and his wife, the founders of UPF, proposed about 30 years ago … that an Interreligious Council should be added to the UN as a ‘spiritual Security Council.’ This idea was recently put forward as well by the renowned Rabbi [Awraham] Soetendorp in the Netherlands, who would like to see such a council function as a conscience of the UN.”


Mr. Koetsier concluded his remarks by reading from an article on the UPF International website titled “Statesmen Voice Support for an Interreligious Council at the UN” (https://www.upf.org/interfaith-programs/1949-statesmen-voice-support-for-an-interreligious-council) which includes quotes from a number of national presidents and prime ministers.


Ineke Hilhorst, a documentary filmmaker, spoke on the topic “Peace through Tolerance.” Her focus is on peace at the micro level, and she spoke about her experiences with people in the village where she lives. In a village meeting, people were asked to what extent they could be themselves. Surprisingly, many young people said that they could not be themselves. They felt ignored by older people and often confronted with a negative attitude.


Since that meeting, however, the young people have been taken more seriously and are becoming more involved in village policy. It is important to create a more beautiful community, Ms. Hilhorst said, starting with peace in one’s heart, tolerance and being active in one’s neighborhood.


The topic of Protestant Pastor Ari van Buuren was “Peace Relay – from Erasmus to Today.” In some way, he said, we all are involved in a relay for peace, in which successful communication between people from different backgrounds, religions, races and nations is very important. He recalled how an Israeli woman and a Palestinian woman embraced each other in tears when they deeply understood that both of them had lost a close family member in the fight between the Israelis and Palestinians.


The pastor said that at a young age, he was concerned about peace. After World War II, people expected world peace to come, but were disappointed when conflicts did not disappear. East Germans gained freedom, but experienced that West Germans looked down on them.


Reading a book about Erasmus, Pastor Ari became fascinated by the Dutch philosopher, who wrote a pamphlet for Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, for a peace conference that never took place. However, due to the invention of printing, the pamphlet was distributed in several cities in Europe. In his pamphlet, Erasmus criticized the established order and held up Jesus as a role model.


Giving modern-day examples of forgiveness and interconnection, Pastor Ari said that the relay for peace continues. The time of Erasmus has similarities with the time we are living in now: geopolitical wars, epidemics and ideological conflicts. We need to keep hope and bless each other. God is actively carrying out His work.

By Willem A. Koetsier, Secretary General, UPF-Netherlands
September 21, 2023

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