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H. G. Alvarez: Address to World Summit 2022, Session IV

Address to World Summit
February 11-13, 2022


I am grateful for the invitation to participate in the World Summit 2022 for Peace in the Korean Peninsula from Dr. Thomas Walsh, chair of the Universal Peace Federation, founded by the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon. I thank the co-hosts, H.E. Samdek Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and H.E. Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary General of the United Nations. The dream of a reunified Korea, initiated by their visit in Pyongyang, is pursued with passion and perseverance in this Mandela Decade for Peace. We recall his mantra: Our common humanity demands that we make the impossible possible.

As a media leader joining this gathering of experts from various professional fields, I have a very personal experience with the Korean people. When I was eight years old, I attended a joint rally for freedom in Korea and the Philippines at Madison Square Garden, led by none other than Kim Dae-jun and my father, Kirsten Alvarez, who was leading the democratic opposition in exile, while my mother was collaborating with Yoo Duk-hyung, President of the Seoul Institute of the Arts, at La Mama Theater in New York City for arts education.

I have confidence that media has a vital role to play in our common vision of a peaceful, healthy, and sustainable world. Media provided the world a full view of the horrible situation of death, destruction of homes, livelihood, infrastructure, the dreadful state of refugees, and the agonizing cries of the widows and orphans in conflicted areas of the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and in Europe with the threat of war in Ukraine.

In our Asian region, the crisis in Myanmar and the recent missile launch in North Korea have aroused the grave concern of the UN Security Council. Likewise, it is also media reportage of the peaceful overthrow of the dictatorship in the Philippines via a people prayer-power bloodless revolution that restored democracy. The vivid close encounter of this event, inscribed in the UNESCO memory of the world, has been referred to as the inspiration for more victories, such as the liberation of some countries like the former Soviet Republic, the fall of the Berlin Wall that unified one Germany, and even Arab Spring.

The media is a vital tool for continuity information, for promoting and safeguarding common cultural practices and traditions bridging the possibility of international cooperation, harmony, and assistance. It can serve as a mirror of present conditions, preventing conflict and addressing its root causes while strengthening the rule of law, poverty eradication, and social development.

Initially, I see four pathways where media can respond to the query. Is it possible to resolve a 70-year-old conflict and bring about peaceful reunification in the Korean Peninsula? First, the SDG’s 2030 agenda: North Korea established a new strategic framework for cooperation with the United Nations in 2016 to implement the SDGs co-signed by the UN team led by the Resident Coordinator in DPR, Korea. As international sanctions against North Korea continue, the focus will remain human development projects with major universities and international research institutes to prepare ways to link inter-Korean cooperation to implement SDGs in consideration of North Korea’s strategic areas of need: food, agriculture, drinking water, sanitation, forest restoration, and environmental protection.

Second, the Paris Climate Agreement. Climate change represents a good opportunity for the engagement of the international community with North Korea, in view of the country’s chronic food shortage which could be aggravated by droughts or flooding. The COP meetings is a framework of collaboration on issues of protecting the carbon sinks, the oceans, and the forests, providing access to green-technology transfer to facilitate a clean alternative energy.

This is the year for basic sciences for the SDGs, and scientific data must be popularized in cultural symbols people can understand, reaching all sectors. Media must serve as a brilliant addition to lifelong learning systems to inform and motivate about the problems and solutions in reducing carbon footprints, to innovate widening use of renewable energy. The Foreign Ministry of North Korea condemned Trump in disengaging from the Paris Accord as a shortsighted, silly decision.

Now America has returned to the agreement. This could be a contrasted opening for a reapproachment with the Biden government in the common mission for decarbonization geared towards a low-carbon, green-growth economy to sustain human wellbeing.

Third, intangible cultural heritage as a driver for cultural diplomacy. In late 2018, UNESCO accepted a historically significant joint submission by South Korea and North Korea with their traditional Korean wrestling, ssireum, as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. This symbolic and notable cooperation on inscription intensified dialogue between the two Koreas. Further steps will include collaboration on inscribing of the Demilitarized Zone, the DMZ, which remains almost untouched since the Korean War and hosts about 1,000 endangered species.

As another joint intangible cultural heritage element, South Korea hosts the International Information and Networking Center for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia Pacific region. Permission to merge applications from two countries into one was given as an exception, serving as an excellent example of how UNESCO functioned as a platform for cooperative public diplomacy.

Fourth, culture as a catalyst for effective communication. Books and films, including different artistic disciplines reflecting the value of kinship, family reunion, and solidarity, can touch hearts and forge the collective voice of citizenry to push government action towards peace. Korea’s creative industry and cinematic and broadcast dramatic expressions are now recognized globally. The wealth of artistic talents can portray heartwarming stories about the bittersweet journey from separation to reunification.

Infused with pride in a common heritage, history, habitat, language and creative industries, soap operas can build the compelling vision of peace. Our television network, the Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation, is willing to collaborate with any media organization towards this task. Education is the most effective weapon that can be used to change the world. Media is a creative, lifelong learning medium with global values to teach as a mirror to see our foibles and seize our strength and armor against social ills, a consensitizing force with the memory of the suffering of war victims.

We saw ping-pong diplomacy open the road to diplomatic relations between China and America. The world applauded enthusiastically when the North Korean sports heroes joined the South Korean team in the Olympics. North Korean artistic teams were invited to join a South Korean dance theater artist in an SDG resilient earth-saving festival to be held the first week of April this year in Manila under UNESCO patronage. It is devoutly to be wished, with the support of Universal Peace Federation, that this envisioned synergized presence can fertilize the ground for cultural dialogue towards reproachment for peace, not by force of arms and missiles, but by the power of arts and media.



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