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S. Moulana: Address to 32nd International Leadership Conference

Address to 32nd International Leadership Conference, Seoul, Korea, August 26–29, 2018


Honorable Ministers, Members of Parliament, Champions of Civil Society, Ladies and Gentlemen: Good evening.

Over the last three days, it has given me immense pleasure to be a part of the discourse at this International Leadership Conference, hosted by the Universal Peace Federation, as we held consultation within this system of peers to address our own responsibilities towards ensuring a higher purpose, a higher level of understanding, and a higher consensus.

I come from Sri Lanka, where I am the deputy minister of National Integration, Reconciliation and Official Languages in the Sri Lankan government. As you are probably aware, Sri Lanka’s history was marred by ethnic conflict beginning in the 1970s, which arose to a brutal civil war that reached a military conclusion in 2009.

For the last three decades, I have been the elected representative of one of the epicenters of the civil war, the Batticaloa District in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. As we emerged out of military conflict, in which my constituents lost loved ones, their homes and their livelihoods, there was a level of naïve optimism with respect to moving forward devoid of conflict. However, eight years later, although hard infrastructure and development programs have been readily implemented, ideological shifts are slow, as the scars of war were too deep.

What started in the early 1950s as a politically motivated ploy to create a divisive ethnocentric agenda among complacent coexistent communities churned into a radical extremist ideology that spread like wildfire, leading to bloody riots and ultimately a full-blown civil war. Hundreds of thousands of lives were lost, millions were displaced and a resource-abundant nation was deprived of its true potential. Now, being the Deputy Minister of National Integration, Reconciliation and Official Languages, I’m faced with an extremely daunting responsibility to address the outcomes of such extreme ideologies and ensure that all citizens get individual closure from the past and more importantly develop a sense of greater understanding and respect moving forward.

The point I’m making here, and what I’ve also come to learn more about over the course of this conference, is the absolute necessity to address and combat extremist ideology from its very inception. Of course, the world has come to be what it is today, for better or for worse, having been shaped by mostly radical thinking and evolutionary change, but these schools of thought, particularly with respect to religion, race, ethnicity, culture, history and so on should be focused more on studious thought, reflection, acceptance, respect, understanding and acknowledgment. As human beings, we are bound to question, to challenge before we understand. But at least, we should work towards ensuring that our future generations comprehend before they question, and then do so respectfully.

Therefore, forums and conferences such as these are the absolute need of the hour, as we look both outward and inward with the intention of working together with our peers to construct a broader consensus of peace, understanding and respect. This consensus, this gathering, is a testament towards humanity’s commitment to reconcile, to learn and to grow together. Let’s start here.

I thank the founders of the Universal Peace Federation, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, for their visionary leadership in the formation of UPF and their lifelong commitment towards World Peace. I thank Dr. Thomas Walsh, the Presiding Council and all members of UPF who remain committed towards advancing the core principles upon which the UPF was formed.

While I thank you all, I’d like to leave you with the words of Robert F. Kennedy, who said in South Africa in 1966 the following:

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Let us, this gathering, be that ripple of hope.

Thank you all.



To go to the 32nd International Leadership Conference Schedule page, click here.