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Speeches

G. Arroyo: Address to World Summit 2022, Session 7

Address to World Summit
February 11-13, 2022

 

Prime Minister Hun Sen, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, co-founder of UPF, Chairman Walsh and all the other leaders and individuals who have been involved in and support this forum, ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, thank you for the honor you have given me of addressing you. My father, the late Philippine President Diosdado Macapagal, had a long association with you, and I am proud to follow in his footsteps.

As a congressman, my father sponsored the resolution sending Philippine troops to the Korean War in 1950. Taken by itself, one might say that his action pertained to an issue of war.

But he was a man of peace. His legislation gave birth to the Philippine foreign service career as an instrument of peace. It gave birth to the Philippine minimum wage structure that exists to this day.  It also gave birth to the Philippine rural health system that continues to benefit Filipinos.

My father’s involvement with the people of Korea is perhaps a microcosm of the two-pronged approach we should take in dealing with today’s topic—peace on the Korean Peninsula. 

We should take this two-pronged approach in order to promote the creation of the foundation for lasting peace.

The first approach can best be explained by looking at how the developed parts of the world appear to have outgrown the era of world wars.

The great World War era began with the assassination of Austria’s Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 and ended with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Since then, mankind has not faced the prospect of global, worldwide conflict of the scale that marked the years from 1914 to 1918 and the years from 1939 to 1945.

Despite a number of regional and local wars since 1962, the developed countries have seen a steady and spectacular rise in material wealth and quality of life made possible by global peace.

I believe that today’s developed world will take all steps to avoid large wars, simply because it now has too much to lose. Governments cannot survive if they plunge their populations into a war that will devastate their economies, particularly in today’s age of nuclear weapons that create mutually assured destruction.

But this thesis holds true only for the developed world that has too much to lose. More than one third of the world’s population still lives in underdeveloped countries with little to lose. Many of the world’s regional and local wars are rooted in these countries.

Thus, the first of the two-pronged approach is to help these underdeveloped countries join the ranks of the developed world.

This approach is best expressed in the simple words of the first goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: No poverty. In its words, “Eradicating poverty in all its forms remains one of the greatest challenges facing humanity.”

But the task of eliminating poverty is an abstract concept. It can only be given flesh and form by the actual efforts of individuals such as all of us present here today in this forum. And since human individuals are by nature social creatures, such efforts are best achieved by working within our communities.

Thus, this is the second of the two-pronged approach. We must all do what we can within the limits of our corner of the community, no matter how large or seemingly small or humble our corner might appear.

As a politician of rising influence, within his corner, my late father worked to provide the Filipinos peace and prosperity by promoting institutional legislation to support peaceful foreign relations, as well as a better quality of life through social wage and health infrastructure.

On our part, we must act to encourage and support others in our respective communities, to take their own steps, big or small, to contribute to the efforts to eliminate poverty wherever it exists.  We can do this quietly though our own actions. But since all the participants in this forum are individuals of stature and influence, we can also do it through visible leadership by example.

This approach applies not just to the Korean Peninsula, but worldwide. Korea can eventually become a shining example to the world of how peace can arise from conflict.

Let us look at history. Some students of history say that war is inevitable, and that war has existed since the earliest days of mythic human history. History’s first warrior, Gilgamesh, was an existential figure who strove to achieve heroic deeds in his search for immortality. But he ultimately discovered a profound wisdom. He found out that true meaning in life can be found in the small steps that humankind takes in its steady march towards civilization.

If war is inevitable, so is peace and progress. Peace is the natural state of mankind. It is the precondition for material progress that all nations strive for. 

We have great institutions, such as the UN, dedicated to peace. But the efforts of institutions of peace will remain intangible without the efforts of individuals, working within their communities, to provide the ground-level, day-to-day foundation for lasting peace.

How does all of this relate to the Korean Peninsula? Today, there exists a great disparity in incomes between North and South. Some analysts see this disparity reflected in the specter of hunger in the North. Hunger, of course, is a manifestation of poverty in the ranks of a country’s population. This disparity provides opportunities for mending fences, by way of genuine initiatives on the part of the South to close the income gap. Hopefully, persistence and dedication to continued communication between North and South will make this possible.

There will be no shortage of naysayers pointing to past failed efforts. But forging peace requires that we don’t stop at our last failure, but rather sustain our dream of harmony with ever more renewed peacebuilding. That, we see exemplified in the Korean Peninsula.

Since 2018, its two leaders have persevered in their efforts to expand and deepen exchange, despite setbacks and hopes dashed by decades of hostility. Such efforts at the top will benefit from ground-level, day-to-day encouragement and support from individuals, communities and institutions at the lower levels from the top.

Let Korea’s example teach the world that peace can thrive if humanity can collaborate, communicate and develop together.

Kamsahamnida.

 

 


To go to the World Summit 2022 Schedule page, click here.