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K.H. Note: Renewal of the United Nations and Peace

Address to UPF's World Summit on Peace
May 28-June 2, 2009, Seoul, Korea

Over the course of my 30 years of public service in my country, I had numerous opportunities to speak at the United Nations about issues of great concern to my country and my people.

As you may know, the Republic of the Marshall Islands is still struggling to cope with the tragic legacy of the United States nuclear testing program in which some 68 thermal, atomic, and hydrogen bombs were detonated in my country from l946 to l958. To this day, some of the islands are still not safe for human habitation, and people have not been able to go back to their traditional homeland due to dangerous level of radiation as a result of the nuclear testing program.

The other issue that is constantly threatening our peace in security is the imminent threat of sea level rise as a result of climate change or global warming. While scientists and climatologists are debating the issue, we in the Marshall Islands have already witnessed some of the harsh consequences of environmental degradation. As a result of the rising sea level, some portions of our small islands have begun to submerge under the water. Our fragile ecosystem is very susceptible to salt water which keeps creeping onto our lands and into our homes, our villages, and of course, our traditional way of life. As a matter of fact, I can predict with certainty that if the world community is unable to find ways to resolve the environmental issue immediately, then my people will become the first ‘environmental refugees’ within the next few decades.

These are some of the serious issues that had compelled me to bring to the attention of the United Nations in hope of finding solutions. And, I must submit that, in spite of the good intentions of the UN as a whole, its records on both issues have been less then satisfactory.  And while I do not in any way criticize the UN and its leadership or the men and women who are trying their hardest to serve our common humanity, I do believe that the time has come to seriously consider reforming the world governing body so that it may effectively find solutions to serious problems affecting the world, whether they be social, economical, political, or even religious ones.

But in all fairness, I am also aware of the fact that the UN has attempted to restructure itself in the past, but with minimal success.

In the meantime, problems continue to plague so many people in so many parts of the world and in so many ways. Innocent and decent people, including women and children, continue to suffer the consequences of wars and conflicts in many parts of the world, while others continue to suffer from hunger, extreme poverty, diseases, and other unimaginable  conditions that have completely deprived them of their basic human rights, their pride, their values, even their hopes and dreams.

Several years ago, the United Nations decided to establish some benchmarks toward improving quality of live for every citizens of the world. These are known as the Millennium Development Goals. As is the common practice in the UN, the process of developing these goals took several years and a substantial amount of resources by the UN and its member countries. After several years of trying to implement these goals, it is reported that while some countries have made improvement on them, others have fallen further behind while still others have hardly moved at all. It means that the problems that were identified by the United Nations several years ago are still there, and people are still suffering.

The UN is expected to provide a holistic global approach to resolve these problems, working in concert with its member countries and with non-governmental organizations.

In this respect, I find Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s visionary proposal to establish a "parent UN" to be extraordinary and brilliant. For the United Nations to be relevant in the 21st Century, it must listen to the will of God Almighty, and this can be done simply by engaging the religious leaders of the world as a major and permanent component of the United Nations General Assembly.

How do we change the United Nations? One the speaker at this conference proposed that the United Nations declare a special day to inaugurate the vision of “Building a World of Universal Peace: One Family under God,” as introduced to the world by Rev. Moon. That is good for a start.  But we, the Ambassadors for Peace along with the Universal Peace Federation, should design a working strategy that would set forth the way toward the ultimate goal of incorporating into the United Nations system an assembly of interfaith leaders to collaborate with other branches of the UN in their efforts to bring lasting peace, harmony, and prosperity to every citizens of the world.

In our deliberations on this issue we should also coordinate with our respective national governments in order to maximize our leverage and to ensure a sustainable and united effort on this historical vision.

The United Nations as is currently structured has outlived its effectiveness in resolving conflicts around the world. It can no longer be relied upon to bring lasting and sustainable peace throughout the world. It can no longer be expected to provide security and protection for thousand and even millions of the world's citizens who are caught in the line of fire either in the Middle East, in many African countries, in Europe, in Asia and even in the Pacific region. It cannot even prevent its own member countries from fighting each other.

The most profound missing component of the United Nations today is the involvement and participation of the world's religious leaders. It is very obvious now that governments alone, whether acting independently or in a union such as the United Nations, cannot do the job.  We have witnessed the most ferocious threat of war during the Cold War and have seen so may of the world's citizens perish as a result of regional, ethnic, and even religious conflicts. In actuality, more people have perished as a result of these conflicts than in World War I and II combined. That is why I fully support the vision initiated by Rev. Moon to restructure the United Nations by including the religious leaders of the world,and by adopting a God-centered approach to world peace and security.

Let us all strive toward a New Vision for Peace in the 21st Century: One Family Under God. Thank you and God bless.