ILC2021-7 Session 2 - Intervention of Mr Heiner Handschin

Hello and good afternoon to everyone. Thank you for joining this important meeting.

The Universal Peace Federation, as an NGO in General Consultative Relations with ECOSOC, can be seen as a key player in the field of Peace and Reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula. UPF is itself a faith-based organization.

Because the interreligious dimension is so central and significant within UPF, the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development was created (IAPD) as one of the key pillars of the Universal Peace Federation.

By supplementing world leaders with the wisdom of religious leaders, peace can be achieved by taking into consideration the spiritual side of our human identity.

IAPD’s founding document emphasizes the crucial role of religions in the 21st century as a peacemaker, one human family under God.

In the year 2000, the IIFWP World Assembly was hosted at the UN in New York. Assembly 2000 was organized as a preparation for the Millenium Summit and the UN General Assembly. Many world leaders attended this important meeting.

Dr. Moon addressed the audience in a landmark speech emphasizing the need for religion to take a greater role and leadership in world affairs.

There were two very relevant and visionary points raised regarding the role of religions in world affairs:

First, the creation of an inter-religious council at the UN, something like an upper house or senate.

Second, the need to create peace zones in places of conflict, particularly in the DMZ crossing the whole peninsula around the 38th parallel.

Now let’s look at the strong points of a faith-based approach that could be instrumental for the situation on the Korean peninsula.

The first point is the motivation of selflessness taught by religion in the pursuit of genuine concerns. Religious leaders unlike elected officials can offer help without any request in return. What matters is the interest of a good outcome for all. In the situation on the Korean peninsula, such a standard is required.

Point 2: Religions and FBOs can provide an out of the box vision and emphasize ideas that cannot be perceived by a secular and pragmatic approach. New proposals are needed that can defy old concepts.

Point 3: Religions and FBOs with a high standard of ethics can make calls for action and mobilize many people to take up an issue that is urgent.

Point 4: Religions and FBOs can build on the wisdom of their faith traditions to solve conflicts, e.g., an awareness of overcoming the enemy by overcoming enmity first

Point 5: Religion teaches the heart of compassion and is close to the human condition. It is absolutely essential in order to address the situation of the divided Korean people with humanity.

Point 6: The ability to reconcile two irreconcilable parties is the strong point of a faith-based approach, based on the essential mandates of great religions like “love your enemy”, “avoid bloodshed”, “forgive rather than retaliate”, etc. There are many resources and tools for conflict resolution and peace building in the great faith traditions. It is essential to avoid escalation and potential bloodshed on the Korean Peninsula

So, in short, a faith-based approach is an essential part of the solution for the reasons mentioned above.

UPF, as a faith-based organization, has already been working on so many levels to foster a rapprochement between the two Koreas and could as well bring some appeasement in the very near future. In 2009, according to Dr. Moon’s Millenium declaration in 2000, efforts were made to promote the creation of a peace zone in the DMZ, at the time of a conference at the UN in Geneva, in partnership with the head of the Conference on Disarmament, as well as the director of UNIDIR and the governments of Indonesia and the Philippines through their Ambassadors.

In 2014, again at the UN in Geneva, the project of peace zones was extended to the creation of a UN Peace Complex with the participation of South Korean officials from provincial or city governments in the region bordering with North Korea. Also, media representatives were present, including from Segye Ilbo, as well as representatives from major media like the BBC, in order to report about these interesting proposals.

Ever since 2014, numerous meetings were organized by UPF and its partners to promote the Korean reunification issue at the UN and before the HRC and various national and local institutions.

UPF’s founders have been successful in reconciling with North Korea’s leaders, thus showing an example of reconciliation with the irreconcilable.

In conclusion, representing UPF and IAPD, I would like to renew our determination and our commitment to continuously advocate for a peaceful solution on the Korean Peninsula by reminding all important stakeholders, including governments, about the necessity to seek the common interest of the Korean people, and that this people and families, who have been separated for too long, can again live together in peace and harmony. Thank you for your attention.


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