UPF EUME Newsletters

Dr Katsumi OtsukaDear Readers,

With the tragic destruction of lives in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza, and in many other areas of conflict around the world, our peacebuilding mission is facing a serious challenge. Many actors from diverse fields contribute to the peace process, but in the perspective of UPF, faith leaders play a crucial role. In August 2000, at the United Nations in New York, the UPF Founders proposed that faith leaders be invited to support conflict prevention and peacebuilding within the UN system, in concert with heads of state and diplomats. When political efforts break down, diplomatic channels are closed off, but faith leaders can continue “track two” engagements and dialogue.

In this latest issue, you will see some of the activities that have been held in the second half of 2023 by UPF Ambassadors for Peace, volunteers and partners in Europe and the Middle East – from high-level conferences with heads of state to Peace Road marches and relief activities. 

I wish to thank all those who offered great efforts for peace through dialogue and mutual respect throughout 2023. May your commitment bring fruits of harmony and prosperity in the coming new year.

Dear Readers,

One year after the beginning of the war in Ukraine, we are dealing with a crisis with multiple global consequences. This June edition features some of the events UPF has been holding to address these conflicts in Europe and the Middle East. 

Peace Summit 2023 on “Contemporary Challenges to Global Order: Toward a World Culture of Peace,” held on May 2 to 6 in Seoul, South Korea, gathered participants from over 80 nations. Our regional chapter invited 30 participants to the Summit, including a high-level delegation of former heads of state from the Balkan Peninsula. 

To address the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on the Balkans, UPF has been holding a series of events on peace and security, in partnership with the Podgorica Club of former Balkan heads of state. On 13 June in the Parliament of Kosovo, UPF co-sponsored a conference, with Women’s Federation for World Peace, titled “No Peace Without Women” which promoted women’s role in the peacebuilding process. 

In every nation many other projects have been organized this year. This newsletter can report on only a fraction of these events, yet let me express my gratitude to all UPF volunteers and Ambassadors for Peace for their dedication and support.

Dear Readers,

The year 2023 began under the banner of freedom of religion, with the International Religious Freedom Summit 2023 that was held in the United States, organized by a 40-nation alliance in partnership with UPF.

Early in 2022 a tragic conflict began in Ukraine, with dire worldwide economic, political, social, and security consequences. One trend underpinning the conflict has been a heightening threat to religious freedom around the world.

This newsletter features a series of events held by UPF at significant locations in our region – the United Nations in Geneva and Vienna, the World Council of Churches, etc. - to address this growing threat to religious freedom, which is the most fundamental of human rights.

As we prepare to celebrate this year the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we will continue to mobilize leaders to seek peaceful solutions to conflicts in the Europe and Middle East region. Thank you for your support for UPF activities.

Dear Readers,

As the war in Europe gets all our attention, UPF in Africa has been working with visionary leaders to lay conditions for peace and prosperity in the “continent of the future.” The UPF Summit 2022 and Leadership Conference, held in August in Korea, was attended by two significant groups of African leaders. Ministers of youth from CEN-SAD nations (Community of Sahel-Saharan States) addressed the issue of youth education for peace and development; and top religious leaders met to discuss the formation of a religious advisory body to the African Union. 

Other important issues were raised at the Summit. A high-level fact-finding delegation from the United States reported on their meetings with South Korean administration officials regarding peace on the Korean Peninsula. And religious freedom experts warned that this basic human right was under threat in many countries around the world.  

This newsletter features reports on the Summit, but also on many other activities carried out around our region by UPF Peace Ambassadors and volunteers. I sincerely thank them for their dedication in this time of crisis.

Dr. Katsumi Otsuka, Chairman, UPF Europe and Middle East

Dear Readers,

The year 2022 began with a very significant UPF event that was held amid great challenges. The World Summit for Peace on the Korean Peninsula, held in February, was hosted by UPF co-founder Dr Hak Ja Han Moon and co-chaired by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the eighth UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Despite very strict restrictions of travel to South Korea due to the rising Covid pandemic, 85 major world leaders contributed to the event, either in person or through recorded speeches.

However, 10 days after the summit ended, the Russia-Ukraine war burst onto the world scene. It brought into perspective both the 70-year-old Korean conflict that initiated the Cold War and a new conflict that threatens to revive it.

This issue offers you an account of various programs we have held in the first half of this eventful year, from Ukraine refugee support to Middle East Peace Initiative webinars to high-level consultations on peace and security in the Balkans.

Dear Readers,

Welcome to this last 2021 edition, featuring events that will lead to meaningful activities in the coming year.

In November in the Balkans, after a long delay imposed by the COVID pandemic and by the earthquake that shook Albania, two projects that were initiated in Tirana in 2019 during the UPF Peace Summit were brought to fruition: the opening of the Balkans Peace Embassy and the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation between UPF and the Podgorica Club of former heads of state and government from Southeast Europe.

In December, a Prayer Rally for Peace on the Korean Peninsula, broadcast worldwide from Seoul, commemorated two significant anniversaries: the 1991 meeting in North Korea between the UPF Founders and Chairman Kim Il Sung, and the 2019 inauguration of the World Clergy Leadership Conference in the United States.

More fruits are coming as we move toward the World Summit for Peace in Korea in February 2022. It will be held on site in Seoul and online throughout the world. I warmly invite you to participate, and wish you a happy and healthy New Year!

Dear Readers,

After more than a year of interruption, we are pleased to present this new edition or our UPF Europe & Middle East newsletter.

The Covid pandemic has caused disruption and tragedy throughout the world. It continues to impact our health, our economy, and our daily lives. However, it has not stopped our outreach activities. On the contrary, with the help of modern technology, we have reached out to millions of viewers through our virtual programs. And we have engaged prominent leaders to join us in addressing a message of hope to peoples of the world.

This year 2021, one of UPF’s main objectives has been to support the dialogue toward peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula. In this newsletter, we review the major events that we organized on this critical issue, including the launch of Think Tank 2022, a worldwide group of experts dedicated to move forward UPF’s Northeast Asia Peace Initiative.

Thank you for participating online in many of these activities. They will continue intensely this year, and lead to the World Summit for Peace that will be held in Korea early 2022. 

Dear Readers,

From February 3 to 8, World Summit 2020 was held in Seoul, Korea. It was the largest event held by UPF since its establishment in 2005.

Former and current heads of state, parliamentarians, religious leaders, media professionals, academics and businesspeople gathered for an intense five-day program involving conferences, academic symposia, a youth rally, top-class artistic performances—and a lot of networking.

The summit coincided with the celebration of UPF co-founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon’s 100th birthday. For his wife, UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, it was the culmination of a seven-year course since the passing of her husband, during which she has endeavored to carry forward his vision for world peace.

In Seoul, each world region’s delegation was assigned to its own hotel. The delegation from Europe and the Middle East comprised more than 400 participants from 55 nations, including 14 former heads of state and government. To overcome all the logistical challenges and to care for so many dignitaries, 500 young volunteers were mobilized.

I would like to express my gratitude to all our participants who came to Korea. Your presence confirmed that peace is an ideal that is shared by many and is worth striving for.

Dear Readers,

This issue of our newsletter is dedicated exclusively to the Southeast Europe Peace Summit that was held in Tirana, Albania, on October 25 to 27.

It was a memorable event, both for the remarkable level of participants and for its timing. It brought together current and former heads of state and government, high-level religious leaders, presidents and members of parliament, and other distinguished speakers, including those from nations still dealing with deeply rooted mutual conflicts. And it took place at a time of tension with the European Union that focused everyone’s attention.

The Youth Rally, the Peace Road Balkans project, the Family Blessing Festival—all of which took place alongside the peace summit—expressed a forward-looking, hopeful vision for peace in the Balkan region.

In her opening and closing remarks, the UPF co-founder, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, offered deep insights and a spiritual perspective on the significance of the summit in the history of Albania and the Balkan region.

Finally, the Tirana summit was an important stepping-stone in our preparations for the World Summit 2020 to be held in February in Seoul, Korea.

Thank you for your support in helping to prepare these events. We look forward to your participation in our activities in this coming year!

Dear Readers

The Berlin conference featured on the cover page was significant for two reasons: It linked the 30 year-commemoration of German reunification with current efforts toward the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. It also brought together scholars from East and West to initiate, among UPF activities in our Region, a new focus on academia and scholarly thought centering on the UPF leading theme of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values.

UPF chapters worldwide are now geared toward World Summit 2020 to be held next February in Seoul, Korea, inaugurating the Founder’s centenary year. In the Europe and the Middle East Region, our more immediate focus is on the Southeast Europe Peace Summit that will be held in Tirana, Albania, on October 25-27. Current and former heads of state and government, parliamentarians, religious leaders, scholars and business entrepreneurs will attend this milestone event.

UPF Founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon has been very active attending and leading events around the world, some of which are reported in this edition. We also included a short excerpt of a letter she wrote to her late husband on the 7th anniversary of his passing, reminding us that the heart of love is the basis for the “universal peace” that we are striving for.

Thank you for supporting our activities worldwide. I hope to meet with you in our upcoming events.

Dear Readers,

The 2019 World Summit, held in February in Seoul, South Korea, has been the foundation for a flurry of UPF events around the world.

In Albania, former heads of state and government from the Balkan nations gathered to launch preparations for the Balkans Peace Summit to be held in Tirana in October. The ongoing challenge of peace on the Korean Peninsula has stimulated a series of supporting events in Europe, notably in Moscow.

But the central feature of the spring season has been the celebration of the family. Our cover story is the event jointly organized by UPF and the World Council of Churches at WCC Headquarters in Geneva. Other events have been held and co-sponsored by UPF around the world: From mega-church gatherings in Los Angeles and Johannesburg, to city-level seminars in Europe and the Middle East, the family as the school of love and peace needs to be protected and strengthened in our world of conflict.

I wish to thank our UPF Ambassadors for Peace and UPF volunteers for their contributions to these remarkable accomplishments.

Dear Readers,

This special edition of our Newsletter covers the main events surrounding the UPF World Summit 2019 held in Seoul, South Korea, in February.

The inaugural ceremony of the International Summit Council for Peace, the third Sunhak Peace Prize award ceremony, the International Conference on Peace in the Korean Peninsula, the 30th anniversary celebration of the Segye Times newspaper, the 25th International Conference on the Unity of Sciences, and other events brought together many world leaders as well as high officials of the Korean government.

This is a significant time in the history of the Korean nation. The World Summit commemorated the centenary of the March 1st Independence Movement, when the Korean people in 1919 rose against Japanese occupation. This is also the time for a possible turning point on the Korean Peninsula, when reunification at last may be envisioned.

Dear Readers, the recent Summit opened the year 2019 in grand fashion. We are now moving toward World Summit 2020, one year from now. It will be a milestone in the history of UPF. Let us work together for a successful year.

Dear Readers,

At the dawn of 2019, let me express my sincerest wishes for good health, prosperity and success in all your endeavors.

We closed the year on December 12 in Strasbourg with a conference at the European Parliament on “Europe and the Future of Human Rights”. The act of terror that preceded it, shaking the whole nation, was a tragic reminder of the seriousness of our peacebuilding mission, notably concerning the dialogue among religions.

UPF’s focus on interreligious dialogue and cooperation began in 2018 with inaugural meetings of the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development (IAPD) in Vienna and Geneva. It continued with inaugural meetings in Kiev, Jerusalem, Moscow and Paris, as reported in this edition.

In the Middle East and North Africa other significant events were the inauguration of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) at the Moroccan Parliament and the participation of UPF in the World Tolerance Summit in Dubai.

The series of World Summits organized in 2018, beginning in Senegal and Brazil, continued in South Africa, where UPF honored the legacy of Nelson Mandela on his centennial year, and in Nepal, where the Asia Pacific Summit gathered six current heads of state and many other dignitaries.

A culminating event will be the World Summit 2019, to be held in February in Korea, with a large delegation of world leaders - a prelude for many high-level activities this year.

Dear readers, I wish that you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and that you will have a safe and successful new year.

Dear Readers!

This second edition of the UPF Europe & Middle East Newsletter features activities that took place throughout our region mainly between July and October 2018.

Two large international events were held during that period, attended by Ambassadors for Peace and other leaders from our region: the Latin America Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which gathered 500 participants from throughout Latin America and around the world; and the 32nd International Leadership Conference in Seoul, South Korea, commemorating the sixth anniversary of UPF founder Dr. Sun Myung Moon’s ascension.

A recent project in the Balkan Peninsula pioneered a new avenue for peacebuilding: From October 1 to 11, the 2018 Balkans Peace Road brought together young people, parliamentarians, city mayors and other officials on a tour linking seven nations that share a history of conflict: Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Greece.

Crossing borders often involves crossing barriers of minds and hearts burdened with painful memories. The Peace Road project is a global ideal envisioned by the UPF founders to connect nations beyond ethnic, religious, political or economic divides. The Balkans Peace Road project will continue annually and will make a headway for peace in this historical crossroads of cultures in the heart of Europe.

May this newsletter convey the dedication of UPF Ambassadors for Peace and volunteers who are actively involved in peacebuilding activities in this significant year of 2018.

Dear Readers!

We are pleased to introduce the first edition of the UPF Europe & Middle East Newsletter, featuring some of the programs held by UPF chapters in this large region of 72 nations—from Dublin in the west to Vladivostok in the east, from Reykjavik in the north to Sana’a in the south.

Because several nations are holding many programs on the city level, we have room to highlight only a few of the activities held by Ambassadors for Peace and volunteers throughout the region.

An important focus of UPF in 2018 has been the launch in every region of the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development (IAPD), a UPF project initiated in Seoul in November 2017 in the presence of 400 religious leaders from around the world. The European inauguration of IAPD, held in April 2018 in Vienna, Austria, was attended by prominent political leaders and representatives of faith-based organizations and civil society, searching in collaboration for lasting solutions to the critical problems of our time.

In 2018 UPF initiated a series of large Summits for Peace, Security and Human Development throughout the world, beginning in Senegal in January, when 1,200 leaders from across Africa gathered for a UPF summit co-hosted by President Macky Sall and the Senegalese Parliament. Upcoming summits will be held in Latin America, Asia and South Africa, and will be reported on in the next edition of this newsletter.

We hope that this newsletter will fully convey the dedicated spirit of UPF Ambassadors for Peace, volunteers and partnering organizations, and the vision that inspires them to build a peaceful world.

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